Yesterday news came that George Mendonsa, the sailor pictured in this iconic World War II (or, more specifically, end of World War II) picture and presented on Life magazine, had passed away at the age of 95…
The woman in the picture, Greta Zimmer Friedman, had passed away at 92 in 2016. The two did not know each other and Mr. Mendonsa grabbed and kissed the woman, a dental technician, without her consent.
That’s right, he grabbed a random woman, pulled her up to him, and planted a kiss on her.
I know the image is iconic, I know it has been used to show, in visual form, the ecstasy of the moment in Times Square when WWII was officially over and celebrations over that fact ran throughout the nation.
However, what we have here is a woman, against her will, being grabbed and kissed. Later on and when interviewed, Ms. Friedman stated: “It wasn’t my choice to be kissed”. Just like that, this iconic image feels… I dunno… wrong.
For years and before the story behind this picture was reported, I figured the two knew each other and they both shared in this celebratory kiss. When I discovered otherwise…
Look, I understand Mr. Mendonsa, as most military personnel and civilians, was thrilled war was over and they would not experience battle.
Yet what he did here… it simply wasn’t right. I wouldn’t want to be out on the streets, minding my own business, when someone (male, female… its irrelevant) grabs me and forcibly plants a kiss on my face… or worse.
I suspect not many people would.
It certainly mars what was, at one point, a seemingly delightful picture that came to signify the elation of a nation at the end of a brutal war.