icon bookmark-bicon bookmarkicon cameraicon checkicon chevron downicon chevron lefticon chevron righticon chevron upicon closeicon v-compressicon downloadicon editicon v-expandicon fbicon fileicon filtericon flag ruicon full chevron downicon full chevron lefticon full chevron righticon full chevron upicon gpicon insicon mailicon moveicon-musicicon mutedicon nomutedicon okicon v-pauseicon v-playicon searchicon shareicon sign inicon sign upicon stepbackicon stepforicon swipe downicon tagicon tagsicon tgicon trashicon twicon vkicon yticon wticon fm
7 Mar, 2024 16:02

Iconic WW2 kiss photo avoids ban

The ‘V-J Day in Times Square’ image was seen as depicting a “non-consensual act”
Iconic WW2 kiss photo avoids ban

The legendary photo of a sailor kissing an unsuspecting nurse in Times Square in NYC during celebrations of Japan’s surrender in World War II will continue to decorate the facilities of the US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), the agency’s head Denis McDonough has assured.

McDonough made the statement on Tuesday shortly after a memo aiming to ban the iconic image began circulating on social media. It was sent to VA’s regional offices by the agency’s assistant secretary of health for operations, RimaAnn Nelson, in late February and claimed that the ‘V-J Day in Times Square’ photo depicted a “non-consensual act.”

The type of behavior that was captured by Life magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt in New York City on August 14, 1945 is “inconsistent with the VA’s no-tolerance policy toward sexual harassment and assault,” Nelson wrote.

The image, copies of which are displayed at the US Department of Veteran Affairs facilities as a symbol of the conclusion of World War II, can’t serve that purpose anymore because perspectives on historical events “evolve” in society, she explained.

“To foster a more trauma-informed environment that promotes the psychological safety of our employees and the veterans we serve, photographs depicting the ‘V-J Day in Times Square’ should be removed from all Veterans Health Administration facilities,” Nelson instructed in the memo.

But the order was apparently overruled by her superior, McDonough, who wrote on X (formerly Twitter): “Let me be clear: This image is not banned from VA facilities – and we will keep it in VA facilities.” His post included the photo of the same historic kiss on Times Square, but pictured from a different angle by US Navy photojournalist Victor Jorgensen.

Greta Zimmer Friedman, who is believed to be the woman in ‘V-J Day in Times Square,’ said that the kiss between the two strangers “wasn’t a romantic event… it was a ‘thank God the war is over.’”

“It wasn’t that much of a kiss,” Friedman recalled in a 2005 interview for the Veterans History Project. The reason the sailor “grabbed someone dressed like a nurse was that he just felt very grateful to nurses who took care of the wounded,” she explained.