Thursday, February 21, 2019

All for a kiss

Stories and News No. 1158
  
On February 18, 2019 George Mendonsa, or Mendonça, died. He was ninety-five years old and became famous for a photo, but above all for a kiss. A stolen one, literally.
According to the chronicles of the time, on August 14, 1945 George was in New York and he was watching a movie at the well-known Radio City Music Hall. He was with Rita, the woman who would later become his wife, when some people entered the hall and began shouting words that everyone in the world was waiting with anxiety and hope.
The war is over.
A marvelous phrase, a forbidden dream for entire generations struck by a bitter destiny and whispered to the utmost almost every day by those who are obliged by History to consider peace only a coveted horizon, instead of the natural condition.
Besides there are conflicts and battles of all kinds, in this world, whose soundtrack is not necessarily composed of mortar shots and machine guns’ bursts.
Anyway, George ran out with Rita, and began to cheer like a madman, as everyone else.
He was a sailor, a crew member of a warship called USS The Sullivans (DD-537).
Also for this reason, the exceptional news made him lose his mind.
So, between the shouts and the confusion, wandering the streets of the Big Apple, he forgot about Lisa and suddenly came across Greta Zimmer.
The latter was twenty one years old. She was born in 1924 in Austria, from a Jewish family. In 1939, therefore at the age of fifteen, she was forced to flee her country at that time controlled by the Nazis, along her two younger sisters. Their parents never managed to escape and died in a concentration camp.
At the time of the so-called V-J Day, when Japan surrendered, Greta worked as a dentist's assistant.
As soon as she learned the big news, like so many she went down the street to celebrate, still wearing her white work coat.
That's why George mistook her for a nurse. And that's why as such she became popular in the equally famous picture.
The sailor approached, took her in his arms and gave her a kiss.
Thus, the photo became history.




You know? I like to image our common life told and witnessed by photographs that fill a gigantic album, which sooner or later we will be able to derive the general story from. It may be incomplete, of course, because much is lost beyond the limits of a camera lens, modern or not.
For this reason, I am convinced that in that precious collection there aren’t only the photos actually taken, but also other images, equally important, no less significant and very important to understand what happened then and, above all, what is happening today.
Then, I look at the photo of the sailor kissing the alleged nurse, but then I close my eyes and I see more.
I see another photo, in which the girl stops the man and refuses the kiss, resolutely convinced that she has to decide who to share her lips and when.
In yet another she is taking the sailor in her arms and she is kissing him, reversing the weights of a storytelling that still insists on showing us love from a single and arrogant side.
Below, I see further scenes, in other days and different places, but all around the famous topic, which seems to say to those like myself: I challenge you to stand comparison with reality.
Well, I see right now other suggestive photos that in my humble opinion deserve the eye of the most.
Among all, the embrace of a volunteer to a migrant child, where the latter word should make the first totally useless as inappropriate. The kid has overcome the sea and the fear of not survive the trip.
In the image the girl kisses him on his forehead, so the official script is respected.
It is more than ever in the sentence that acts as a caption to the whole, drawing inspiration from what the child thinks and feels exactly at that moment.
The war is over, that is, I'm at peace, I'm safe, I did it.
And so on, other invisible photos are added in my mind, of magical encounters, between those who celebrate a happy moment and those who try to forget all those who preceded it.
These are also moments to remember, this is History too, the one an incalculable number of people, who are a fundamental part of it, have rejoiced and still do today, despite for a few seconds.
All for a kiss...


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