All things Siesta Key. Stories, news, and event information about Sarasota, Florida's beautiful beach.
Sarasota’s “Kissing Statue” – Unconditional Surrender
If you’ve ever spent any length of time in Sarasota, you’ve most likely encountered the Unconditional Surrender statue on the Sarasota Bayfront. If you have not yet come across this statue, it’s definitely worth your time and energy to make a trip to Bayfront Park. Not only will you get the opportunity to have yourself photographed in front of this unusual landmark in downtown Sarasota, but you can also walk the length of the marina, lunch at any of the amazing eateries along nearby Main Street, or take a quick drive over the Ringling Bridge to St. Armand’s Circle for shopping and fine dining.
But for all the attention the statue receives, the meaning and history behind it can get lost. So the experts at Best Western Siesta Key thought it would be a good idea to help you know what you’re looking at when you visit our favorite “Kissing Statue” while enjoying your stay in Siesta Key and Sarasota.
What Is The Kissing Statue?
Unconditional Surrender, otherwise known as the “Kissing Statue,” is a greater-than-life size version of a famous photograph snapped at the end of World War II. The original photograph, entitled “V-J day in Times Square” by Alfred Eisenstaedt, captures the celebratory essence of sailors, nurses and other military returning home from Europe after WWII ended. Originally printed in Life Magazine in 1945, this image was the cause of some mystery for decades as no one, including the photographer, knew the names of the couple in the photograph. Eventually, it became known that George Medonza, caught up in the spirit of the celebration that day, had grabbed Greta Zimmer Friedman, a woman he didn’t know who was walking past him at the time and kissed her before moving on in the crowd. Medonza passed away in February of 2019 at the age of 95.
Where did the Statue Come From?
Originally part of a series by sculptor Seward Johnson, this statue has several versions located around the world, including Hamilton, New Jersey, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and Normandy, France. Some controversy has surrounded Johnson’s choice of subject, stating there are copyright infringements, but Johnson insists his statues are renderings of a similar but lesser-known photograph by Victor Jorgensen which is still public domain.
Why is the Statue in Sarasota?
The Unconditional Surrender statue pays tribute to the many WWII veterans who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. Installations around the country and the world allow people everywhere to recapture a bit of history and share in the victory experienced everywhere when the war ended. While there has been some controversy from the art community about the contribution of this statue to Sarasota’s community, it has quickly become a landmark unlike any other in the area, drawing dozens of people each day to visit, take photographs and revel in a bit of history.
The next time you’re in the Sarasota area, be sure to stop by and take in this unique piece of culture and history. Share its story with those around you and remember the celebratory passion experienced by those in Times Square that day. Connect with previous generations, then enjoy a perfect day along the waterfront in Sarasota’s most picturesque area. For more great ways to enjoy Sarasota and Siesta Key while you’re here, talk to the experts at Best Western Siesta Key. We’ll be happy to share our favorite locations and tours to suit your tastes.