I’ve always been intrigued by World War II. I’ve read around 25 books about every aspect of it. I had to see the film
“Oppenheimer” the weekend it debuted. I’m intrigued not just by the gigantic public figures like Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin but by the average Americans who fought and defeated the Nazis and the Japanese Imperial Army.

This background is reason that whenever great photos come up on my radio show, I always choose “The Kiss.” It is the iconic photo Alfred Eisenstaedt took of a sailor kissing a dental assistant who he thought was a nurse in Times Square on V-J Day, August 14, 1945.

To me, this kiss captured the celebration of the war ending and the relief felt by George Mendonsa, the sailor who kissed the woman. The relief reflected that Mendonsa and thousands of others would not have to return to the Pacific and invade Japan. That invasion most likely would have resulted in the deaths of 500,000 or more Americans.

That celebratory kiss makes me reflect on the wise decision of President Harry Truman to use the atomic bomb on Japan. Truman saved not only American lives but also possibly millions of Japanese citizens who would have died defending their home islands.

However, this photo, despite all that context, does sit well with the woke mob that has decided, like so many other customs, statues, and phrases, must be censored and diminished to satisfy their view of the world. The Me Too Movement tried to portray this kiss as akin to sexual assaults on women that were exposed in recent years.

In the last few days, some woke Veterans Administration officials led by RimaAnn Nelson, the agency’s assistant undersecretary for Health for Operations, banned the photo from all Veterans Administration facilities. She railed that showing the photo in VA hospitals “could be construed as a tacit endorsement of the inappropriate behavior it depicts.” The memo was a word salad of the mindset of the woke, who seemingly live to be offended and engage in targeting anything that reflects traditional America.

Once this memo was publicly exposed on social media, a firestorm forced Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough to say he was originally unaware of the memo. It said the photo would not be banned from VA facilities.

There is a silver lining in this. I did not know Mendonsa thought he was kissing a nurse and was partly inspired to do it because three months before, he watched in awe as nurses worked to save the lives of men from the USS Bunker Hill who had been severely burned and injured by explosions set off by two Japanese kamikaze planes that had struck the ship.

The principle that should be used in judging past actions and how we should treat them is to look at the context of the times. What could possess RimaAnn Nelson not to use that standard? Did she not see this photo as something that has endured and become so beloved there is a giant statue depicting it in San Diego? Her memo constantly references the need for a respectful atmosphere in VA facilities. Where is her respect?

Cancel culture is being effectively challenged on many fronts. However, it is not dead. It thrives in government operations like the VA, on many college campuses, and in progressive cities.

Today, I’ll celebrate this win and think of the Greatest Generation of Americans and the jubilation they felt on August 14, 1945, knowing they could get on with their lives.

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