World’s Largest “Unconditional Surrender Kiss” Statue
No, it's not Nurse Edith Cullen Shain unconditionally surrendering to the sailor. It was Japan unconditionally surrendering to the United States.
On V-J Day, August 14, 1945, Alfred Eisenstaedt took a famous photo in Times Square. It was of a sailor kissing a nurse after it was announced that Japan had unconditionally surrendered. We found a 26-foot tall statue of the pair from the photograph standing in Sarasota's Island Park, on the bay front by the Marina on U.S. Route 41.
We were lucky to get there when we did — a couple of hours later and we would have missed the statue. A crew was there with a crane and cherry picker working on detaching the statue from its pedestal. They didn't know anything about what was happening other than they were told to remove the statue and load it on a truck.
The statue originally appeared in Times Square for the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II. After that it ended up in Sarasota. In 2006 it went to San Diego for a while. In 2008 it came back to Sarasota. I don't know where it's going now.
The sailor was identified by a team of volunteers at the Naval War College in August 2005 as George Mendonça, of Newport, Rhode Island, although many other men have claimed the honor over the years.
Update: A little bit of research led me to some more information about what was going on . . .
Jack Curran, an 89-year-old World War II veteran, bought the statue for $500,000 and plans on donating it to the City of Sarasota.
The crew we saw was taking the statue apart for transport to Mercerville, New Jersey, where is will be repaired (the sailor has a broken left arm among other things). Then the statue is supposed to come back to Sarasota for a 10-year stay at the marina. According to the city, the statue's projected return date is July 11 this year.
As part of the donation agreement with Curran, the city guaranteed to keep the statue in more or less the same spot for the next decade. Curran is hoping the city will leave it there for longer than that as a tribute to Sarasota County's veterans.
About $400,000 of the $500,000 will be kept aside for three years, just in case of a suit by Time Inc., owners of the 1945 Alfred Eisenstaedt photo.