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A New ‘Kiss’ for Valentine’s Day

Thursday, February 14, 2013

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Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the replacement statue of a sailor stealing a kiss from a nurse at the end of World War II has arrived in San Diego.

Standing 25 feet tall and weighing 15,000 pounds, The Kiss statue arrived Monday (Feb. 11) from Trenton, NJ,  after months of collaboration between the USS Midway Museum and the Port of San Diego.

The new statue replaces the 6,000-pound Unconditional Surrender sculpture that has graced the downtown San Diego waterfront since arriving on loan in 2007.

The deteriorating foam and urethane sculpture was removed in 2012, and a new, bronze sculpture arrived Feb. 11 in San Diego. Private donations paid for the $1 million artwork.

The original statue, by J. Seward Johnson and owned by the nonprofit Sculpture Foundation in Santa Monica, was made of a foam core with a urethane outer layer, making it susceptible to weather damage. The replacement statue is made of bronze.

Both statues represent the iconic 1945 Life magazine photograph taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt in Times Square when the end of World War II was announced.

Architect Sweethearts

As the Unconditional Surrender statue was preparing to leave the city in February 2012, Architect Donald J. Reeves became determined to keep the statue permanently and suggested a painted bronze version be installed in the same location.

The statue holds special meaning for Reeves and his wife, Julia, who were high school sweethearts during World War II, when Reeves joined the Navy.

"It's just one small gesture that I think we owe San Diego, we owe the sailors," Reeves told a local ABC affiliate in February 2012.

The new sculpture was paid for with about $1 million in donations, with fundraising efforts led by the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum's "Save the Kiss" campaign.

Both statues depict the iconic 1945 Life magazine photograph of a sailor stealing a kiss from a nurse on VJ Day in Times Square.

Installation and Dedication

A dedication ceremony is scheduled for Saturday morning (Feb. 16, when a handful of couples who were married during World War II are expected to renew their vows.

The ceremony will feature entertainment by the Navy band, an event called "Salute to Heroes," and other activities.


Tagged categories: Aesthetics; U.S. Navy; Urethane

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