On August 14, 1945, people in New York city took to the streets to celebrate the end of the World War II, and among them was a sailor named George Mendonsa.
Amidst the hoopla over Japan’s surrender to the United States, Mendonsa was photographed kissing a woman in a nurse’s uniform.
The photo, which was taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt, was later published in Life magazine, and became one of the most iconic photographs of the 20th century.
It took years, but the story behind “The Kiss” was finally told after Mendonsa and Greta Zimmer Friedman came forward as the couple in the photo.
Turns out, they had never met each other before V-J Day, but Mendonsa went in for the kiss because Friedman reminded him of the nurses who took care of the wounded soldiers while he served in the Navy.
He also took a swig of some liquid courage before the incident.
“I saw what those nurses did that day and now back in Times Square the war ends, a few drinks, so I grabbed the nurse,” Mendonsa said, WPRI-TV reported .
The pair never had a relationship, but reunited at least twice before their deaths. Friedman passed away in 2016 at the age of 92 while Mendonsa died on February 17, just two days before his 96th birthday.
Now, just a day after the 95-year-old veteran’s demise, a statue of his iconic kiss in Florida has been defaced by supporters of the #MeToo movement.
It seems like the act of vandalism was possibly fueled by the fact that Mendonsa did not get Friedman’s consent before planting a kiss on her lips.
“The guy just came over and kissed or grabbed,” Friedman said during a 2005 interview with the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project. “It was just somebody really celebrating. But it wasn’t a romantic event.”
Sarasota police were tipped about the vandalism of the “Unconditional Surrender” statue, and when they arrived to the scene, they found the words “#MeToo” written in red on the nurse’s legs.
The damage, which has since been fixed, was estimated to be around $1,000 “due to the large area that the graffiti covers.”
There are no suspects or surveillance video to help police investigation, but the authorities are asking anyone with information to call the Sarasota Police Department at 941-954-7025 or leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers at 941-366-TIPS or online at www.sarasotacrimestoppers.com.
The #MeToo movement was founded by Tarana Burke in 2006 to bring attention to the prevalence of sexual assault in our society and give victims a chance to stand up against it together, but it gained more traction after the allegations against Harvey Weinstein surfaced in 2016.
The controversial initiative has since helped expose perpetrators and bring justice to many victims, and create an ongoing conversation about consent, sexual harassment and assault as well as domestic violence.