Some Loved It, Some Hated It!

I don’t think there’s anyone who doesn’t love the photo taken at the close of World WarII of a sailor who grabbed a nurse in the middle of Times Square, NYC, bent her back and kissed her. This was his reaction to the news that the Japanese had surrendered. Taken

This is the "Unconditional Surrender" sculpture" on Sarasota, Florida, Bay Front.

on August 14, 1945, Alfred Eisenstaedt was the photographer and his photo was used by Life magazine. That’s how everyone knew about it. A photo of the raising of the American flag on Iwo Jima has become a World War II icon and we’re all familiar with the bronze sculptures that depict this photograph.

Another photo of the Times Square happening was taken by a Navy photographer, Victor Jorgenson, and it was on this photo that Seward Johnson decided to base a sculpture upon. First he built a life-sized, bronze one, followed by a 25 foot Styrofoam version which was loaned as a temporary exhibit to the city of  Sarasota, Florida. Everyone loved it, right? Wrong! It seemed to be something that some loved and others hated. Art critics didn’t like it. They thought it was a lame imitation of the photo, a blown up figure from a cheap souvenir factory. Some called it a traffic hazard and a gaudy rip-off of Eisenstaedt’s famous photo. However, the public loved imitating the big smoochers and Sarasota County Veterans sponsored a “Monumental Valentines Day Kiss.” For one-hundred dollars, wedding vows were renewed, a photo of the couple kissing, in the same position, was taken, and wedding cake and flowers were included.

The debates continued and in the year 2006, the town ended up sending the sculpture on temporary loan to San Diego, 3000 miles away. (It is not uncommon for sculptures to be moved from city to city.) At that time it was Styrofoam but since then was  done in aluminum. Now if Sarasota wanted to keep it, it would cost the town $700,000. In 2010 Jack Curran, 89 year old World War II entered into the “sculpture saga” and paid $500,000 for the statue, then donated it to the city of Sarasota. He asked that it be given a ten year stay on Sarasota’s Bay Front as a tribute to Sarasota’s WW II veterans. There was another reason for Jack to invest so much money into the sculpture and then give it away. His wife Margaret, who died two years before, loved it and asked to see it each time they visited the city. City Commissioners voted 3-2 to accept the donation agreeing to leave it in the same spot for at least a decade. By the way, Seward Johnson has done many sculptures in his lifetime and is now eighty-one years of age.

Like thousands of others, my husband took a photo of me at the sculpture, we didn’t reenact the pose,(just didn’t think of it) nor did we renew our marriage vows there. But I for one is intrigued with the story behind this statue. Someone has called it, “The Kiss That Lingers.” It’s been officially named,  “Unconditional Surrender,” referring of course to Japan’s. I think it’s a great piece of history and a landmark that’s distinctively Sarasota’s. You can’t miss it, it’s 25 foot towering height catches your eye and adds special interest to the bay front at Sarasota.

12 thoughts on “Some Loved It, Some Hated It!

  1. This always makes me well up…very spontanious…it shows how united we are as a nation…very touching. Thanx for standing by the statue so I can see how enormous it is. Love Jack’s story.

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  2. Hi Shirl,
    Thank you for your wonderful blog about the statue of the soldier and the nurse. I didn’t know the story behind it. I have seen pictures of the statue, and I always assumed that it was a soldier coming home and sweeping his sweetheart off of her feet. I didn’t realize that the statue is 25′ tall! You look so small, standing next to the statue…..I didn’t even notice you, until I looked back again at the picture.You almost blend in with your white pants….looking like part of the nurse’s shoe. LOL Thanks for sharing this.

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    • Hi Colleen: From what I’ve been told, the sailor did not know the nurse. The kiss was his way of expressing his happiness for the war ending and probably for her service to the country. It is quite the story, at a time when our country was united in its war efforts and allegiance. Thanks for commenting on “shirlandyou.”

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  3. HI SHIRLEY..I THOUGHT YOUR BLOG WAS VERY INTERESTING.I HAVE SEEN THE PICTURE OF IT BUT DIDNT REALIZE THE STORY BEHIND IT..I DIDNT SEE YOU AT FIRST HAD TO GO BACK AND LOOK AGAIN..ENJOY AND CANT WAIT TO READ WHAT YOU HAVE FOR NEXT WEEK,,LOVE YOU ADA MAE

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    • Glad you enjoyed the story on this week’s “shirlandyou.” I love hearing your comments. You’re not the only one having trouble seeing me in the photo.The picture gives you a greater idea of how tall the statue is, 25 feet. Thanks for commenting.

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  4. I love the statue…and the photograph! It depicts the joy felt when the sailor knew the terrible war was over. To me it symbolizes a life of freedom and fun. I’m glad Sarasota decided to leave it there and I was able to enjoy it! Thanks for all the info about it..

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    • Appreciate your comments, Janine. I feel the same way you do about the statue. Being a photographer yourself, I’m sure you appreciate what a photo can do to preserve history. I’m glad this one was taken.

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  5. This statue reminds me of a real life situation. I was helping a group of ladies welcome POW’s at Travis Air Force Base in California. We provided everything from icecream to pizza and baseball games playing on the TV to help them feel calm and relaxed. The men were thin, but clean shaven and looking proud in there uniforms. They had to stay at the base for a couple of hours to go thru clearance and book flights home. When all of a sudden I was handing a soldier a snack when he looked right in my eyes, threw his arms around me and gave me the biggest hug in the world. I never knew his name, but I hugged him back. He then went ot his chair with a glass of milk and his snack and smiled my way and mouthed “Thank you” Everytime I see this photo of the nurse and the kissing soldier it reminded me of him, I thought, I lived that! That was what he was going thru at that moment. He just wanted to feel life, and to feel a little normal. He was happy he was home….

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    • Debbie: I loved hearing your comment. They say this sailor was kissing everyone in sight, I think I would have done the same. He was home safe after a long war and the giving of himself for his people. Thanks for the memories, Deb. Our men today need to know we love and appreciate them for the sacrifices they are making to keep our country free. Hope you’ll write again.

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  6. Although I didn’t read your last 2 articles until just now, I want you to know I Loved them Both. Reading has been a literal pain for the last 2 weeks as I got an eye infection due to a bout with Bell’s Palsy. My right eye has been adorned with a patch and ointment until Now. I couldn’t wait to “See what Shirley has to say.” Thank You for your blogs and History lessons. God Bless You Shirley. =o)

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    • Dear Billy: I appreciate your kindness in expressing your enjoyment of “shirlandyou.” I am aware of the painful time you have been having with a bout of Bell’s Palsy. I have been praying for your condition and hope that when you say “bout” that means it will leave you soon. I want to encourage you to keep pressing on for I believe the “enemy” would want to stop you from what your are trying to accomplish on face book. God bless, Billy.

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