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That Famous VJ-Day Kiss Photo May Have Documented A Non-Consensual Kiss

Updated 28 Oct 2019 200.0k views11 items

Few 20th-century photos are as famous as that of the the sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square on V-J Day in August, 1945. You only have to Google 'sailor kissing nurse,' and your screen will be littered with this renowned image.

The photo has been replicated as a wedding cake topper and was even referenced in the opening credits of Zach Synder's Watchmen adaptation; the image has been debated, discussed, and dissected in numerous articles debating its origins and just how romantic or exuberant that kiss really was. So what's the true story of the sailor-nurse kiss? Unfortunately, it's not as romantic as you might have thought.

The major issue with the most memorable V-J Day image is that it might have just documented a nonconsensual kiss. Because of the photo's legendary status, people became pretty interested in tracking down the featured couple, and they found them: Greta Zimmer Friedman and George Mendonsa. Those hoping to learn of the couple's many children and long-term love affair, however, were sorely disappointed. In 2005, Friedman came forward as the woman in the photograph, and she explained exactly what happened on that exciting day. Friedman remembered that spirits were high, the alcohol was flowing, and "[it] wasn't that much of a kiss" – in fact, the two didn't even know each other. Can you look at this photo the same way after learning its real story?

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