Greta Zimmer Friedman, the 21 year old dental assistant reputedly the woman often mistaken for a nurse in the famous August 14, 1945 V-J Day photos, has died at age 92. The scene, long known as The Kiss, shows her with a young sailor, who apparently was kissing women at random in Times Square as part of the spontaneous, raucous celebration in New York streets.
Friedman was a Jewish refugee from Nazi-occupied Austria, from which she and her sisters had escaped, one going to what became Israel, while their parents were killed in the Holocaust. V-J Day for her meant the Axis powers that had murdered her parents and millions of others were finally vanquished. For the young sailor, Japan’s surrender meant he would be spared possible death in a blood-drenched invasion of Japan. Much to celebrate.
Thanks to Allied victory in WWII, Friedman and the sailor who kissed her, along with millions of others, were spared from a war and accompanying genocide that killed over 50 or 60 million, living long and fruitfully. Their kiss forever represents the triumph of life and decency over death cults like Nazism and Japanese militarism.
Yesterday marked the 15th anniversary of 9-11, a day when 3000 Americans and others were killed only a few miles from The Kiss scene at Times Square that transpired 56 years earlier, as well as at the Pentagon. Their killers represented another death cult that hates America and its lawful freedoms.
Like Pearl Harbor, 9-11 launched America into another war. But unlike WWII, the War on Terror has no end in sight. Fortunately, it does not include great land and sea battles involving powerful empires killing millions. It’s a very different war, involving mostly small but homocidal terror groups fueled by Islamist ideology supported by millions across many lands.
There will not be any V-J Day equivalent for the War on Terror, no conclusive celebrations in Times Square, or famous kisses captured for posterity. This struggle of arms, intelligence and ideology will outlive us all and persist across many generations. If it ever ends this side of the parousia, there will not likely be any exact day to commemorate.
How can a death cult commanding allegiance of many millions operating within a global religion be defeated? Only perseverance and confidence in the superiority of civilization can enable survival and ultimate victory. Biblical faith promises that darkness will never overcome light, and this certainty should motivate and inspire us always. The Kiss of V-J Day in Times Square is a confirmation.