Have you seen the Kissing Statue in San Diego yet?
Let me tell you the story behind this iconic image of American history.
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I have always wanted to see the Famous Kiss Statue in San Diego Harbor. I am a nurse and I kind of feel a bit proud inside knowing that the lady involved in the kiss was a nurse! Or so I thought!
The first visit we had was in December of 2016, but it was night time and though it was wonderful to see the San Diego Harbor at night with all the illuminating lights from buildings and at the park, day time photos with the statue is better. So we vowed to come back at daytime to take more pictures.
The second time we visited was right after our disembarkation from our 2 Night Disney Cruise to Mexico, it gave us a good opportunity to see the statue in daylight and of course, to take more pictures. San Diego is at least 7 hours drive from our home so its very seldom that we go down to that Southern part of California.
The Kissing Statue piqued my interest after seeing it aboard the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum in the past. As we were exploring the aircraft from the top deck of the ship, I looked down and saw the statue and I wanted to visit then, but we ran out of time.
As most people, I then remembered that it was based on the photograph taken after Japan surrendered in World War II and that it was a kiss shared by two strangers a sailor and a nurse. Well, me and most other people are partly right.
So let me tell you a bit of a story about the Famous Kiss.
The sailor was Petty Officer First Class George Mendonsa. On the day of August 14, 1945, he donned his blue navy uniform and had an afternoon date with his girlfriend Rita. They went to watch a movie but was not able to finish the movie because the show was interrupted by the jubilant news of Japan’s surrender and the end of WW II. They went out to the streets and had a few (or more) celebratory drinks and headed to Time Square together, but Rita fell behind as George was so excited and giddy to celebrate victory.
The “nurse” was Greta Zimmer. She was not a nurse but a hardworking dental assistant. When wearing her uniform without her cap as a dental assistant, she can be mistaken for a nurse as her uniform was all white. She was working on that day when she heard the news of the end of WW II and on her break, she headed to Time Square as well, to read for herself the Times Building Zipper message “VJ”, announcing that Japan really surrendered to the United States.
The famous German-Jew photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt, who was working for Life Magazine was also scouring the streets of Manhattan and was in the hunt of one of a kind photos for that fateful day of victory and he was in the right place and at the right time.
Alfred noticed the intent of the tipsy and uninhibited George in his blue navy suit, go for Greta in her white uniform, who was standing innocently and happily watching the Times Zipper message “VJ”. Greta turned her gaze away from the Times Zipper as George decisively grabbed Greta for the Famous Kiss without permission, and Alfred was there snapping photos at the right moment!
The famous kiss happened in the afternoon of August 14,1945 in Time Square Manhattan, New York, south of 45th Street looking north from where Broadway and Seventh Avenue converge.
Some people say it was a classic case of sexual harassment, but in the light of that historic celebratory event, it was a rather forgivable incident. There was another photo snapped by Victor Jorgensen, but his photo was less famous but it did helped him become recognized as a photographer as well.
The Kissing statue originally came to San Diego Harbor in 2007, and it was replaced with a permanent bronze and better looking 25 foot sculpture in 2013, now officially known as The Unconditional Surrender. Its rightful placement in front of USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum is fitting because San Diego has the greatest number of veterans and active duty sailors in the nation.
The Unconditional Surrender Statue is also placed next to the Bob Hope Memorial Plaza. Bob Hope was an actor and an entertainer who dedicated himself to entertain US soldiers, sailors and airmen of the armed forces in many remote outposts and battlefronts throughout the world for over 50 years.
So there my friends, my curiosity is finally satisfied and I hope I have enlightened your curiosity as well about the kissing statue.
When are you going to visit this iconic statue?
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