Students weigh in on location of Unconditional Surrender statue
To get a Riverview perspective on this change happening in Sarasota, Ram Page created a Microsoft form that gave RHS students the opportunity to read a little about the iconic statue, and then answer the question:
“In which location would you like to see the "Unconditional Surrender" statue permanently reside?”
They were given nine potential location options:
· The area between O’Leary’s Tiki Hut and Marina Jack Restaurant
· The roundabout in front of O’Leary’s at: 5 Bayfront Drive
· The roundabout near the Sailing Squadron at: 1717 Ken Thompson Pkwy
· The roundabout at the North end of Ken Thompson Park on City Island
· The Sarasota Municipal Auditorium’s lawn bowling lot at: 801 N. Tamiami Trail
· Sahib Shriners at: 600 N. Beneva Road
· Hart’s Landing at: 920 John Ringling Causeway
· JD Hamel Park at Gulfstream Blvd. and Main Street
· Landing of the Scots at Main and Gulfstream Blvd.
Their task was to select which they would prefer, and then provide some sort of commentary on why they chose the location that they did.
The data received from a survey of 65 people is shown here:
The overwhelming majority selected the area between O’Leary’s Tiki Hut and Marina Jack Restaurant, which is unsurprisingly the area closest to where the statue currently resides.
“I feel saddened by the move of "Unconditional Surrender" statue for a variety of reasons. To start off with, this statue had a very sentimental value because it marked the end of WWII. I also feel that this statue is an icon for our city, Sarasota. Everyone knows this statue, whether you just moved to Sarasota, or if you were born and raised here. Although in my opinion, there isn't any better location than its original location, I think a close second would be the area between O'Leary's Tiki Hut and Marina Jack restaurant because it is pretty close to the previous location and it's still a place where many natives AND tourists go.” -Alyssa Murrell '24.
“I chose the roundabout because I believe the statue should stay in the same general area, and the location would show of the statue in full scale to all who pass by.”-Jackson King ‘24
Students who chose other locations also seemed to have some great reasoning behind their choices as well.
“After seeing this statue on the way to the Sailing Squadron loads of times, I am intrigued to see where this statue will go. I chose that it should move to the roundabout by the Sailing Squadron because I believe the tourists that like to take pictures with the statue may also like to visit the nearby aquarium, Mote Marine.” - Carmella Swencki ‘24
“I don’t really care where they put it, as long as it’s in a spot where people can see it. It’s a staple of Sarasota. I chose the roundabout at the North end of Ken Thompson Park on City Island because I think it would look good in a roundabout.”-Gabrielle Mizak ‘24
Sarasota ponders moving Unconditional Surrender to
What once was a romantic kiss that was a symbol of peace is now seen as a moment of indecency and
assault. The 25-foot statue in Sarasota was first displayed in 2005 and has been continuously questioned
whether it was a consensual kiss or an act of assault.
The Unconditional Surrender statue was built by Seward Johnson and believed to be based on the Alfred
Eisenstaedt’s photograph, V-J Day in New York Square. Johnson made the statue by using technology to
create a cartoon image and then used Styrofoam for the original 2005 statue, then at later date was
updated to Bronze.
In 2009, the question of whether to display an aluminum version of the statue was again brought to
attention by an 88-year-old, World War II veteran who was willing to donate money for another copy. A
member of the Chairman of the Public Art committee questioned whether Johnson copyrighted the
statue by using Eisenstaedt’s famous photograph. Johnson diminished the issue by stating he used
another lesser known photographer, Victor Jorgensen and the court granted it to display for another 10
Questions about the removal of the statue surfaced again in 2019 because of the death of the alleged
man in the picture. The statue was vandalized with the words, #MeToo across the leg of the nurse on
the Sarasota statue who felt it was offensive. Whether the statue will be moved is still being decided by
the city commission and considering the controversy surrounding the statue, it will not be an easy
decision to make.