It’s time to cancel V-J Day in Times Square, the iconic photograph of a Navy sailor kissing a woman to celebrate the end of World War II, at least according to one employee at the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

According to a memo shared online, RimaAnn O. Nelson, assistant undersecretary for health for operations, requested the removal of the photograph “from all Veterans Health Administration Facilities in alignment with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ commitment to maintaining a safe, respectful, and trauma-informed environment.” 

The photograph “depicts a nonconsensual act,” the memo says, and is therefore “inconsistent with the VA’s no-tolerance policy towards sexual harassment and assault.”

After the memo generated outrage online, a spokesman for the VA provided the Washington Examiner with this statement: “VA will NOT be banning this photo from VA facilities,” which was later echoed in a post by Secretary Denis McDonough. 

When asked to clarify whether the memo was real, the spokesman added that a memo that should not have been sent out has been rescinded, appearing to confirm that the viral memo is genuine. 

There are a few possibilities that explain the memo and its swift retraction. One, an overzealous bureaucrat with no better way to spend her time and our taxpayer dollars sent out a memo about which senior leaders were unaware. When they learned of it, they opposed it. 

Another option is that this memo had been approved explicitly or implicitly by leadership who had hoped to rid VA facilities from the iconic photograph quietly. When it became too late for that option, they opted to distance themselves from the memo. 

While it’s certainly good news that the VA won’t be removing a piece of American history from its facilities, it should be disturbing that an employee evidently took the time to craft and distribute this ridiculous memo at all. 

William F. Buckley Jr. once wrote that “boredom is the deadliest poison, and it is a truism that it strikes hardest at the most comfortable.” Considering the dismal stories from veterans, one might think the VA would spend its time trying to cut down on bureaucracy and wait times to serve its constituents better. Instead, its employees are assuaging their boredom by focusing on the removal of photographs.

Such a move would be at best a waste of time and at worst a petty rejection of American history.