The Unconditional Surrender statue in Sarasota, Florida — depicting the iconic image of a sailor kissing a woman in a nurse's uniform in Times Square after the end of World War II — was vandalized Monday, only a day after the veteran in the photo, George Mendonsa, died at 95.
Officers responded at about 12:55 a.m. Tuesday to a report of a person spray-painting the statue, the Sarasota Police Department said in a statement.
When officers arrived, they found the words "#MeToo" in red covering the length of the woman's left leg. The #MeToo movement supports the survivors of sexual abuse, assault and harassment.
The statue is believed to have been spray-painted sometime between Monday midafternoon and evening.
The incident was not captured on video surveillance and police said there are no known witnesses. The spray paint was removed Tuesday morning.
Facial recognition technology would later verify Mendonsa's claim to being the sailor kissing Greta Zimmer Friedman, a dental assistant, on Aug. 14, 1945 in the image published in Life magazine and seen around the world. He died Sunday at a nursing home in Middletown, Rhode Island after a seizure.
Mendonsa would have turned 96 Tuesday, his daughter told NBC News.
Janelle Griffith is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.