WWII ‘Kissing Sailor’ Spray-Painted with #MeToo

Kissing Sailor Statue

via Flickr

Kissing Sailor Statue

The Unconditional Surrender statue in Sarasota Florida was vandalized Monday 18, 2019, a day after the male veteran the statue is modeled after, died. The statue, nicknamed the “Kissing Statue” was spray painted with “#MeToo” on the left leg of the nurse. Sarasota officers responded at 12:55 am Tuesday.

The statue is modeled after the iconic WWII kissing photo of George Mendoza and Greta Friedman. The photo was taken in Times Square after the end of the war. The photo shows Mendoza bending Friedman backward as her white uniform rode up her thighs.

The woman in the statue was identified as Greta Friedman who was 21 at the time, and she did not know the sailor. She was a dental assistant celebrating the war’s end on her lunch break.  Looking back Friedman said the kiss was not consensual, “Suddenly I was grabbed by the sailor,” She told Veterans History Project in 2005. “He was holding me tight. I’m not sure about the kiss…It was just somebody celebrating. It wasn’t a romantic event. It was just…’Thank God the war is over.’”

The man, George Mendoza passed away Sunday 17 at the age of 95. The statue was modeled after the photo taken after the end of the war in Times Square in 1945.“So we get into Times Square and the war end and I see the nurse,” he told CNN in 2015. “I had a few drinks, and it was just plain instinct, I guess. I just grabbed her.” Mendoza died February 17 after a long career as a fisherman in Rhode Island. Within 24-hours of his passing the statue of him and Friedman in Florida was defaced.

Many members of the public say to have been the two in the photo, which led to many thinking that the two in the photo were reunited lovers, or just two random strangers brought together by joyful attraction. The truth was more casual. Mendoza was on a date and had had a few drinks when he heard the war was over. They dashed into the street, where Mendoza says Friedman, who’s white uniform reminded him of the nurses who he served with overseas. He later said the kiss was a spontaneous act of gratitude.

Many people are saying the kiss would be considered assault today. The way Friedman’s head is in the crook of his elbow, unable to move or avoid his kiss. Many people say the picture and statue support rape culture and should be taken down. Others say it’s simply a harmless kiss, saying “the war is finally over.”

Just because the photo could be called assault today, doesn’t mean Mendoza was a monster, or all people were like this in 1945. It just means stories aren’t all perfect, and there are many different ways to look at things. In 1945, looking at this photo was like seeing a fairytale come to life after the end of a war. Today people might look at it differently.