By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman David A. Brandenburg, Fleet Public Affairs Center Pacific
“Unconditional Surrender,” a 25-foot, 6,000 pound statue by world-renowned artist J. Seward Johnson commemorating a famous World War II photo was unveiled Feb. 10 at Mole Park in San Diego.
Unconditional Surrender is a three-dimensional interpretation of a photo taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt of a Sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square, New York City on Aug. 14, 1945, following the announcement of V-J Day.
Edith Shain, the nurse memorialized in Eisenstaedt’s photo, and members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors
Association Inc., attended the ceremony along with hundreds of San Diego residents.
“This statue brings back so many memories of peace, love and happiness,” said Shain. “There is so much romance in the statue; it gives such a feeling of hope to all who look at it.”
“During the moment of the kiss I don’t remember much, it happened so fast and it happened at the perfect time. I didn’t even look at the Sailor who was kissing me,” Shain continued. “I closed my eyes and enjoyed the moment like any woman would have done.”
Sailors attending the ceremony had the opportunity to meet the woman pictured in the photograph famous throughout the Navy community, and the world.
“This sculpture represents hope and freedom,” said Quartermaster Seaman Hannah R. Salyer, PCU Green Bay (LPD-20).
“It’s a classic symbol of a Sailor. I can’t put into words the honor it is to meet the woman that was in the photograph and to be a part of the official ceremony for such an amazing piece of work,” continued Salyer.
The ceremony also included World War II era dances and music, and gave people a chance to meet the lady from the famous photograph. Many attendees paid their respects to Shain and other Pearl Harbor survivors.
“This photo and statue still moves me to this day,” said former USS Pennsylvania (BB-38) Sailor Arthur A. Kowalski. “It’s nice to know that people haven’t forgotten about that moment in history. This moment is so precious and can never be duplicated.”
Unconditional Surrender was previously displayed in New York City in 2005 and Sarasota, Fla. in 2006. The statue made its way here, and will stand at the G Street Mole Park for duration of 2007 before traveling to its next home. The statue is owned by the Sculpture Foundation of Santa Monica, Calif., and is on loan to the Port of San Diego.