SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – Florida police are investigating the vandalism of a statue depicting the iconic image of a sailor kissing a nurse at the end of World War II, just two days after the sailor died.
Around 1:00 a.m. Tuesday, Sarasota officers were called to the “Unconditional Surrender” statue, now with “#MeToo,” painted along the nurse’s leg in red paint.
The hashtag refers to the recent movement addressing sexual violence.
The statue depicts the moment George Mendonsa kissed Greta Zimmer Friedman on Aug. 14, 1945, or V-J Day, the day Japan surrendered to the United States.
People flooded the streets of New York City to celebrate the news. That’s when Mendonsa planted a kiss on Friedman, who he had never met.
Several years ago, a few bloggers and websites started claiming the famous kiss depicted an act of sexual assault and was not a romantic moment.
Friedman herself said in a 2005 interview with the Veterans History Project that it wasn’t her choice to be kissed.
“The guy just came over and kissed or grabbed,” she told the Library of Congress.
Mendonsa in 2015 said Friedman reminded him of nurses on a hospital ship that he saw care for wounded sailors.
Mendonsa died on Sunday at the age of 95, two days before his 96th birthday.
When Sarasota officers responded to the scene Tuesday morning, they searched the area but could not find any spray paint cans. No other objects in the area appeared to be vandalized.
The vandalism to the statue caused an estimated $1,000 in damage. Police say it’s because of the graffiti-covered such a large area.
Police believe the vandalism happened at some point between mid-afternoon and evening, but they don’t know the exact time because there is no surveillance video in the area and no witnesses.
Some story info via The Associated Press