This glorious statue located in San Diego on the river front was originally called “Unconditional Surrender” when it was installed in 2007. Re-installed in 2013, the name changed to “Embracing Peace’. The statue depicts the iconic kiss between a sailor and a nurse celebrating the end of WW11 in Times Square, New York on VJ Day, otherwise known as Victory in Japan, in 1945. I visited San Diego in 2018 and was on a bus tour when I first noticed the breath-taking statue. Something about it compelled me to go back and take a closer look. When I returned and and stood at its base, I couldn’t look away. To say it was merely statuesque was the same as saying Godzilla was a just a very large gorilla. The statue was achingly gorgeous, a chiseled reminder of a beautiful moment in time, etched in stone to help the world remember.
I know most of the other statues highlighted in the blog were of women, but something about the “coupleness” of this one set it apart from the rest. It certainly represented many of the same ideals that the other statues did such as dreams of hopes, love, faith and peace. But it was more than that; it was if the partnership between the two strangers was the glue that had cemented them together in a kiss that locked them entwined for all eternity. And the way she is bending backwards to kiss him as his arm steadies her, signals a high degree of trust, not often seen in couples who have just met. If they could speak, would their words say, “War is over. Embrace love.”
I’m sure many of you have read reports about the man and woman, who despite public outcry, did not go on to have a torrid love affair. We know that he was a soldier and she was a nurse, so both of them must’ve been ecstatic that the era of hatred was coming to an end, and hopefully was going to be replaced with empathy, compassion and tolerance. The mood that set the tone for the kiss was simply stated; the kindness of strangers will lead the way.
Still, I imagine more for the nurse. She is at the center of a statement piece and her story needs to be larger than life. My mind events reason why she hid her face from the camera. Certainly, she wasn’t just a shy medical provider with a boyfriend who would be angry when he saw her face plastered across a national magazine kissing another man. She was a spy, involved in espionage, one whose covert operations lead to the end of war.
Another statue plants a seed for a story. Feel free to grab a lump of clay and run with it.
4 thoughts on “Embracing Peace”
Linda Hawthorne says:
The fact that the female is faceless leaves the scene open ended. Makes me want to know more about her.
Peggy Carlock says:
I always thought they were friends celebrating the end of the war and that they were home safely.
Pat Walters-Lowery says:
This statue is full of youthful hope and happiness, unbridled joy and exuberance. I have always loved the picture; I didn’t know there was a statue in San Diego honoring this iconic moment. I always felt like the soldier and the nurse didn’t know each other at that time but somehow they found each other again later in life. My fantasy. I would really love to learn their identities and learn their true stories.
One of the funny things about this image is thinking about it if it were to happen now, since the two people would be tracked down on social media, interviewed on cable news, etc., and I think something about the magic and universality of the image would be lost.