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Sarasota's Public Art Committee Weighs In On Fate of 'Unconditional Surrender' Statue

A statue of a sailor in uniform kissing a nurse in uniform
Daylina Miller/WUSF Public Media
The City of Sarasota has recieved numerous public comments both for and against the sculpture returning to its current location.

An iconic statue in Sarasota must be moved to make way for construction and there are strong opinions on whether it should return to its prominent location once the project is finished.

The 25-foot "Unconditional Surrender" statue stands near Bayfront Park in downtown Sarasota.

On Wednesday, the Sarasota Public Art Committee voted to recommend that the city keep it in storage until a future permanent location can be found. The statue of a sailor kissing a nurse is based on a famous Alfred Eisenstaedt photograph taken in New York's Times Square on Aug. 14, 1945, ‘V-J Day’, marking the end of World War II.

People who want the piece eventually returned to the bayfront say it honors veterans.

Opponents argue the sculpture is a reminder of a sexual assault since history reveals the two people depicted did not know each other and that the kiss was unexpected.

Lower half on statue with a woman's leg spray painted in red with the phrase #metoo
Credit Sarasota Police Department
Sarasota's "Unconditional Surrender" statue was damaged in 2019 by someone who painted "#MeToo" on it with red paint.

In February, 2019, Sarasota Police officers found "#MeToo" spray-painted in red along the length of the nurse's left leg.

The sculpture needs to be moved for the construction of a new traffic roundabout. The project is scheduled to begin in January 2021, and is expected to take about a year and a half to complete.

It’s now up to the Sarasota City Commission to make a final decision on where ‘Unconditional Surrender’ will ultimately reside.