A famous statue in Florida depicting the iconic photograph of a sailor kissing a woman in a nurse's uniform in Time Square at the end of World War II was found vandalized in the early on Feb. 19, a day after the veteran in the photo died.
Authorities said the text was spray painted in red along the left leg of the nurse and covered the length of the nurse's leg. Officers conducted a search of the area to locate the spray paint can but found nothing. Apart from the statue, no other objects in the vicinity were found to be defaced or spray painted, police said.
Officers added there was no surveillance camera that captured the incident and no known witnesses. They believe the incident occurred on Feb. 18 but were unable to give an exact time.
"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," the statement said, adding that the city of Sarasota Public Works had been notified.
On Feb. 19 at around 7 a.m., the city of Sarasota posted a tweet announcing that the graffiti had been removed from the statue.
The statue is based on the iconic photo taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt and was first published in Life magazine and is called "V-J Day in Times Square," but is known to most as "The Kiss."
The photo shows World War II sailor, George Mendonsa, kissing Greta Zimmer Friedman, a dental assistant in a nurse's uniform, on Aug. 14, 1945—known as V-J Day, the day Japan surrendered to the United States. People spilled into New York City streets to celebrate the news. That was when Mendonsa planted a kiss on Friedman, whom he had never met.
Throughout the years, several people claimed to be the kissing couple, but Mendonsa and Friedman were eventually confirmed to be the couple.
Mendonsa served on a destroyer during the war and was on leave when the end of the war was announced.
When he was honored at the Rhode Island State House in 2015, Mendonsa spoke about the kiss. He said Friedman reminded him of nurses on a hospital ship that he saw care for wounded sailors.
Friedman said in a 2005 interview with the Veterans History Project that it wasn't her choice to be kissed.