A statue based on the iconic ‘kissing sailor’ photograph snapped on V-J Day in Times Square was vandalized Monday night, spray-painted with the ‘#MeToo’ hashtag just hours after the veteran in the photo passed away.
Police in Sarasota, Florida, where the 26-foot statue stands, were called shortly after midnight Tuesday morning, responding to a report of an unknown individual spray-painting the phrase on the statue in red.
No surveillance cameras are in the area and no witnesses appear to have seen the incident. The damage is estimated to be $1000, and the graffiti was removed later Tuesday morning.
George Mendonsa for decades claimed to be the sailor in the famous 1945 Times Square photo of a sailor engaged in a passionate kiss with a woman just as World War II ended. He passed away Sunday at 95 in Newport, R.I., according to his family.
The photo that inspired the kissing statue has been celebrated as one of the most famous images of all time. But the moment has also been criticized as a sexual violation of the woman in the photo, 21-year-old Greta Friedman.
“Suddenly, I was grabbed by a sailor,” she recalled, adding that he was “very strong.” “It wasn’t that much of a kiss. It was more of a jubilant act that he didn’t have to go back.”
Mendonsa, who was 22 at the time, always maintained that he kissed Friedman because he thought she was a nurse (she was actually a dental assistant) and he was overcome with gratitude for the work he had witnessed nurses do on wounded men while he was overseas.