WWII ‘Kissing Sailor’ Statue in Florida Vandalized with #MeToo Graffiti

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 12: Demonstrators participate in the #MeToo Survivors' March in response to several high-profile sexual harassment scandals on November 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. The protest was organized by Tarana Burke, who created the viral hashtag #MeToo after reports of alleged sexual abuse and sexual …
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A Florida statue based on the iconic “Kissing Sailor” photo depicting a sailor kissing a woman to celebrate the end of World War II was vandalized shortly after news broke that the World War II veteran in the photo died.

The statue, a 26-foot structure in Sarasota called “Unconditional Surrender,” was found vandalized with the phrase #MeToo scrawled on the woman’s leg on Tuesday, Sarasota Police told NBC Miami.

Police said officers were dispatched to the site of the statue at 12:53 a.m. Tuesday responding to a report of an unknown person tagging the statue with red spray paint.

Once officers arrived, they found the statue with #MeToo spray-painted in red on the woman’s left leg. No other objects were vandalized and there was no evidence of spray paint containers in the area, police said.

“The approximate damage is estimated to be more than $1,000 due to the large area that the graffiti covers and the resources needed to repair it,” police said in a statement.

The “Unconditional Surrender” statue was initially installed in Sarasota in 2005 as a temporary exhibition, but it later found a permanent home in the city in 2009.

Similar versions of the statue have popped up in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; New Jersey; San Diego, California; and New York City.

The statue depicts a scene in a photo where sailor George Mendonsa kissed Greta Zimmer Friedman in Times Square on August 14, 1945, the day Japan surrendered to the U.S. to mark the end of World War II.

Although Mendonsa never met Friedman, he planted a kiss on her in the middle of Times Square, and the image was captured via photograph. The photograph later became one of the most iconic photos of the 20th century.

Mendonsa died at the age of 95 while living at a Middletown, Rhode Island, assisted living facility. Friedman died in 2016 in Richmond, Virginia, at the age of 92.

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