The Kissing Statue is based on this spontaneous photo taken in Times Square on August 14, 1945 – V-J Day . . . . . the moment after President Harry S. Truman announced Victory over Japan and the End of World War II.
“Kissing the War Goodbye” by Victor Jorgensen
The photo was taken by Victor Jorgensen, who was a Navy Photo Journalist. On August 15, his photo was published in the New York Times. Jorgensen titled his photograph: Kissing the War Goodbye!
Another photographer, Alfred Eisenstaedt, also photographed this impromptu moment of the sailor and nurse kissing. His was the most famous, copyrighted version, he named “Kiss in Times Square” that appeared in Life Magazine. Of interest … even though it was declared one of the most iconic images of the 20th century, it was not the cover photo of the magazine.
The statue itself is titled: Unconditional Surrender is a series of sculptures by Seward Johnson resembling a photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt, V–J day in Times Square, but said by Johnson to be based on a similar, less well known, photograph by Victor Jorgensen. Mr. Jorgensen was a photographer for the Navy and his version is not copyrighted. Mr. Johnson’s statue here, in San Diego, is located at Tuna Harbor Park next o the USS Midway Museum and the Bob Hope Memorial.
The original statue was first installed in Sarasota, Florida, then was moved to San Diego, California and New York City. Other versions have been installed in Hamilton, New Jersey; Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; and Normandy, France. I’ve been told that there is a life-size version of the statue that travels to different towns in the U.S., although I have not been able to confirm that.
There have been two versions of the statue. The first version was made of foam and urethane. It was loaned to the city in 2007 but was removed in 2011 because “it was looking awfully worn”. In 2013 over 1 million dollars was raised in 3 months by the USS Midway Museum and a bronze version was permanently installed. Because of its history and interest of people from all over the world it has become one of the most photographed landmarks in San Diego.
One funny side-note is that the sailor (who had a few too many) on V-J Day was walking with the woman who would become his wife. But, when the announcement was made, he kissed the nurse, a complete stranger! The Sailor, His Wife, The Nurse and the world famous Photographer would not re-unite until over 25 years later.
One welcomed observation from this sites administrator. . . a high percentage of the tourist visiting the statue today are from Japan, our former World War II adversary and China – a communist country. We love to see that! Our hope is, like the good people from Japan and China, those countries and individuals who hate and want to destroy America will one day, come to join us, to
“KISS WAR GOOD-BYE”!!!!!