A picture with the Unconditional Surrender, the Famous WWII “Kissing Sailor” Statue, is a Sarasota Tradition
Looking for a fun side-trip with the perfect picture taking spot? Standing tall and proud on the Sarasota bay front is the 26-foot tall Unconditional Surrender sculpture and getting your picture taken at its feet, kissing or not, is a Sarasota tradition. The statue is located at Bayfront Park, a lovely little peninsula of land at the edge of the downtown area with waterfront restaurants and walking paths. The Unconditional Surrender Statue is a recreation of the famous kissing picture that was on the cover of Life Magazine in 1945, the year of the end of World War II. This statue first popped into the Sarasota scene in 2005 and reappeared in 2009 when a US Navy World War II veteran offered a $500,000 grant to ensure it would stand proud to greet visitors, and as fun and positive to make sure veterans like him would not be forgotten.
Eleven men and three women reported to Life Magazine that they were the infamous kissers of the photograph and more recently the inspiration for the Unconditional Surrender statue. One of these men was George Mendoca, who was identified by the Naval War College in August, 2005 as the kisser by matching his scars and tattoos to those in the photo. This was done by experts at the Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories (MERL) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. George’s story leading up to the photograph goes as follows: George was on a date with a cousin to his brother-in-law. This women, Rita, and George had met at a barbecue and George said it was love at first sight. They were at Radio City Music Hall when they heard people banging on the doors from the street screaming that the war is over! With the news that the Japanese had surrendered the two ran out into times square with the rest of the crowds. George laid eyes on a woman he thought was a nurse, grabbed her, leaned her back, and kissed her with everyone standing only feet away. George thought so highly of the nurses who took care of wounded service men that he said grabbing her was just instinctive. The women he thought was a nurse was actually a dental hygienist named Greta Friedman, who dashed from the office when she heard the good news and was unexpectedly dipped into a kiss.
Another man, Glenn McDuffie alleged in 2007 that he was the subject of the photograph. Houston Police Department’s forensic artist Lois Gibson analyzed the picture for key facial features to match to current pictures. She came to the conclusion that it was indeed McDuffie, who also passed polygraph tests confirming his claim. His story is that he was on the subway to Brooklyn and came out at Times Square where there was immense excitement in the street with the news that the Japanese had surrendered. He realized his brother who was a war prisoner would soon be released. He claims a nurse held open arms to him, so he ran to her and kissed her long enough so that the photographer could take their picture. On McDuffie’s 81st birthday he was recognized as the “Kissing Sailor” during a Houston Astros and New York Mets game at Minute Maid Park. McDuffie passed away just this past Friday, March 14, 2014. More information on McDuffie’s story and more here: http://life.time.com/history/v-j-day-kiss-in-times-square-and-other-celebrations-august-14-1945/#1
Looking for local attractions and places of interest? The knowledgeable staff at Tropical Beach Resorts can suggest lots of fun sites to see during your visit to Siesta Key, Florida. Let us help you plan the island get-a-way of your dreams!Tropical Beach Resorts
6717 Sarasea Circle
Sarasota, FL 34242
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