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The Controversial WWII V-J Day Kiss Statue - Sarasota, FL

Dear Diary,
It's one of the most iconic images to ever come out of WWII V-J Day.

This image, which captures the jubilance felt by all upon the War's end, was immortalized with a statue in Sarasota, FL.

Called 'Unconditional Surrender,' the statue was met with one of two extreme reactions - people either loved it or hated it. Those who loved it felt it captured the celebratory joy and loss of inhibition that came with the end of WWII, while others deem it to be a case sexual assault since it's clear the kiss took the woman by complete surprise.

Located downtown, the 28-foot tall, 15,000-lb. Seward Johnson-sculpted statue stands at an intersection in front of the marina. It's centralized location helps make it one of the most photographed spots in Florida.

We passed the statue en route to Siesta Beach, so my photograph was taken in haste. The artisan's skill was apparent even in quick passing, and I marveled at the fact that it seems this 3D image was simply plucked from the photograph itself. 

The photo was taken on August 14, 1945 in Times Square, on the day of the Japanese surrender. People filled the streets upon hearing the news, feeling a sense of pride the country has arguably not experienced since that day. 

The sailor and the dental assistant (not a nurse) have both been identified - George Mendonsa and Greta Friedman - but since passed away, with Friedman's obituary even commenting on the opinion of the spontaneous kiss being an assault. But Friedman's son expressed that his mother did not perceive it that way.

It was a moment of great relief for all those who served, but even more than 70 years later, the statue continues to stir debate. Is this art? Is it history? Is it evidence of assault, and should it stand on the waterfront of a major city? 

So what's your take - is it a moment of euphoria on one of the most historic days in America, or does it depict something that should not be celebrated at all?


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