VA Scraps Plan To Ban WWII Kiss Photo From Facilities After Backlash

March 5, 2024

The Department of Veterans Affairs is reversing its plan to ban the display of the iconic Times Square kiss photo from World War II after the move elicited backlash on social media. 

Veterans Affairs assistant undersecretary RimaAnn Nelson announced in an internal memo late last month that the department would ban from all its health care facilities the iconic photo, which shows a U.S. Navy sailor kissing a female stranger in Times Square during a celebration of the end of World War II. 

"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," Nelson wrote in the memo, noting that the photo "depicts a non-consensual act" and "is inconsistent with the VA’s no-tolerance policy towards sexual harassment and assault."

The memo, released online by X account EndWokeness on Tuesday, faced immediate backlash. Within hours, Veterans Affairs officials rescinded the memo and reversed the ban, the Military Times reported. "Let me be clear: This image is not banned from VA facilities—and we will keep it in VA facilities," Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough wrote on X. 

In late November, the Department of Veterans Affairs came under scrutiny after an employee posted a video on social media deriding the Israeli government’s calls for Hamas terrorists to release Israeli hostages. The department said in January that the employee was told to undergo counseling but was not fired. 

Published under: Veterans Affairs