Veterans Affairs Rescinds Memo Banning V-J Day Kiss Photo

"This image is not banned from VA facilities."
The Kiss Statue at Bayshore Park. (Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
(Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The Department of Veterans Affairs says it is not banning the use of the famous World War II photo showing a sailor kissing a woman in white after an internal memo directed otherwise.

The famous “V-J Day” photo shows a U.S. Navy sailor kissing a total stranger in Times Square in the immediate aftermath of the news that Japan had surrendered.

The memo last month from RimaAnn Nelson, the Veterans Health Administration’s top operations official directed VA medical facilities to “promptly” remove the photo and replace it with something more appropriate

“The photograph, which depicts a non-consensual act, is inconsistent with the VA’s no-tolerance policy towards sexual harassment and assault,” the memo stated.

“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,” the memo directed.

On Tuesday, the memo went viral on social media, sparking nearly instant backlash.

“UNAMERICAN. The Biden administration is now banning one of the most iconic photos in WW2 history, the famous Times Square kiss between a nurse and a sailor. Their rewriting of American history and American culture will not stand,” Representative Ryan Zinke (R-MT) posted on X.

Later on Tuesday, Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough took to social media to reassure critics that the photo would not be banned.


“Let me be clear: This image is not banned from VA facilities – and we will keep it in VA facilities,” McDonough said.

“VA is NOT banning this photo from VA facilities,” Veterans Affairs said in a statement provided to The Daily Wire.

The VA added that a memo was sent out that should not have been, and it has now been rescinded.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre echoed the VA’s statement on Tuesday as well, saying the memo was “not sanctioned.”

“The VA is not going to be banning this photo,” Karine Jean-Pierre said. “I can definitely say that the memo was not sanctioned, and so it’s not something that we were even aware of.”

The famous photo, which also shows people spilling out of bars, restaurants, and movie theaters to celebrate the end of the war, was snapped by journalist Alfred Eisenstaedt in New York City on August 14, 1945. A Navy photojournalist also caught the moment from a different angle.

The man and woman in the photo are thought to be George Mendonsa and Greta Friedman, both of whom passed away within the last decade.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Veterans Affairs Rescinds Memo Banning V-J Day Kiss Photo