In Times Square on V-J Day, 1945, the photo above (left) was taken of a sailor kissing a Nurse. It seemed at the time to be a wonderful thing – a spontaneous show of affection and celebration by two lovers. It has become an American icon and even been made into a giant statue that is featured on Sarasota’s waterfront (right). But by today’s standards it was really a sexual assault.
Historians have finally identified the couple – Greta Zimmer Friedman, a dental nurse at the time, and George Mendonsa, a sailor, They were perfect strangers to each other. George was drunk and Greta has this to say:
“It wasn’t my choice to be kissed. The guy just came over and grabbed!”
“I did not see him approaching, and before I knew it, I was in this vice grip. [sic]“
“You don’t forget this guy grabbing you.”
“That man was very strong. I wasn’t kissing him. He was kissing me.”
Today, Greta would have complained and George charged with assault. Part of me says “Of course she should”; another part says “Pity”.
I’m not saying she should have called the police – but that today it probably would not have happened. If it did, many would have reacted differently than the people of 1945.