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VA Axes Secret Plan To Hide Iconic V-J Day Photo Over Lack Of ‘Inclusivity’

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The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) abandoned plans Tuesday to remove an iconic World War II-era photo from its facilities due to an alleged lack of “inclusivity.” The move came following backlash that emerged immediately after the decision was leaked earlier that day.

In a memo issued last Thursday, VA undersecretary RimaAnn Nelson requested agency officials remove the “V-J Day in Times Square” photo from all Veterans Health Administration facilities, in compliance with the VA’s goal of “maintaining a safe, respectful, and trauma-informed environment.” Taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt in 1945, the iconic photograph depicts a Navy sailor kissing a female stranger during the Victory over Japan Day celebration in New York City at the end of World War II.

In her memo, Nelson claimed the picture represented a “non-consensual act,” and argued that allowing its presence in agency facilities “is inconsistent with the VA’s no-tolerance policy towards sexual harassment and assault.” She further asserted that while the photo’s placement in VA buildings “was initially intended to celebrate and commemorate the end of World War II and the triumphant return of American soldiers,” views on “historical events and representations evolve.”

“Recent discussions have highlighted concerns about the non-consensual nature of the kiss, prompting debates on consent and the appropriateness of celebrating such images in today’s environment,” Nelson wrote. “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 VHA facilities.”

“This action reflects our dedication to creating a respectful and safe workplace and is in keeping with our broader efforts to promote a culture of inclusivity and awareness,” she added.

The X user known as EndWokeness posted the leaked memo Tuesday morning, generating widespread backlash and condemnation of the VA and its ludicrous decision. This prompted VA Secretary Denis McDonough to issue a statement on X, with a caption accompanying the V-J Day photo reading: “Let me be clear: This image is not banned from VA facilities — and we will keep it in VA facilities.”

While McDonough did not say whether the memo was legitimate, The Military Times confirmed its authenticity late Tuesday morning. Agency officials reportedly told the outlet the document “should not have been sent out and was formally rescinded on Tuesday,” but “did not provide details of whether senior leaders were consulted on the matter ahead of Nelson’s memo.”

Two unidentified officials who spoke with the Associated Press also verified the memo as authentic.


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