I was in Sarasota Florida the other day. At the harbour there is a giant statue version of that iconic photograph scene whereby a U.S. Navy sailor embraces and kisses a nurse in Manhattan the day World War 2 ended in August 1945. The sailor was identified as a George Mendonsa, who actually died last week at age 95.
Unfortunately the statue was defaced earlier in the week, somebody red spray painting a leg on the nurse the with the phrase, “#me too.” I imagine whoever did it believed this act of vandalism was productive. Being a lawyer, I want to step into the culprit’s shoes and try to figure out a plausible reason for this action.
Firstly maybe it was George’s little white sailor’s cap. I’d say it’s certainly provocative. I can readily see how that cap can attract an assault. Popeye wore one just like it and every cartoon episode saw him fight gangbusters with his nemesis Bluto. Food for thought. Like spinach.
Another reason for wanting to wreck the statue could be that the scene took place in New York. After all we all know New Yorkers are cold and unfriendly. Walk along Times Square and no stranger will ever look at you and say, “Hi. How's your day so far”. Had this event taken place in say Boise Idaho, there’s a good chance the Sarasota statue would have been spared.
Furthermore, actually that “nurse”, one Greta Friedman, was not a nurse at all, but a dental assistant. Can it be that the rogue painter had a bad experience at a dentist’s office and just wanted to reach out? Who knows?
Or perhaps, just perhaps, the perpetrators did not share the feelings of thousands who ran out in the streets to express their frenzied joy at the announcement minutes earlier that the war which killed over 50 million people was over. Greta later actually described the kiss as a “Thank God the war is over” event. Maybe the vandal(s) thought that the announcement should have been greeted with more of a modified rapture. “World War 2 is done. Nice. Now back to your desks.”
Or then again can it be that the spray painter or paters were actually artists, who figured why not enhance the statue a bit in honour of George Mendonsa, who then age 22, served in the Pacific fleet for several years, enduring the hell of the Far East front. After all their graphic #message is open to a number of interpretations. Then again I fear to think if given the opportunity, what they might do with the statue of Michelangelo’s David.
We’ll likely never find out. They did not hang around for a Q and A.
As for me I’ll tip my hat to the couple. Not to take chances, my hat is a Toronto Blue Jays cap.