Quirky Attraction: Kissing Sailor Statue in San Diego

kissing sailor statue

Kissing Sailor Statue (aka “Unconditional Surrender” or “Embracing Peace”)
Location: Tuna Harbor Park, San Diego CA
When to visit: During daylight hours – park is open from 6 am to 10:30 pm
Cost: Free
Time needed to enjoy: 10 minutes
Website: www.portofsandiego.org/where-go/embarcadero/tuna-harbor-park

It’s been a rough couple of months for iconic statues in major American cities. Chicago lost its Marilyn Monroe statue a while back, and San Diego struggled for quite awhile to keep the statue of a Navy sailor kissing a nurse. The statue, designed after the famous photo taken in Times Square from World War II, was in San Diego along the harbor in the late 2000s before being removed and returned.

The statue is 25 feet tall, weighs 6,000 pounds and is called “Unconditional Surrender,” by J. Seward Johnson, although the city of San Diego has officially labeled it the “Embracing Peace” statue. It’s not far from the Maritime Museum and the other attractions along the harbor. It lives in Tuna Harbor Park, not far from a Bob Hope tribute.

The original statue was removed in 2012, but in 2013, a replica was installed back in San Diego, and it now rests there permanently. The USS Midway Museum raised $1 million to fund the replacement.

Other versions of the statue reside in various cities around the country. But the San Diego kissing sailor statue is somewhat iconic since it’s been there for many years and because the city is known for its large naval base.

Interestingly, the woman depicted in the statue (and the famous photo) just died in September 2016 at the age of 92. Mischa Elliot Friedman had previously told reporters that she didn’t know the sailor and didn’t see him coming before he grabbed her and planted the famous kiss all those years ago.

The sailor, George Mendonsa, parted ways with Friedman immediately after the kiss, but that fleeting moment has now become such a famous landmark in San Diego and other places around America.

Tuna Harbor Park is officially open from 6 am to 10:30 pm if you want to stop by to grab a selfie with this famous couple. Expect plenty of other tourists to be around!

About Quirky Travel Guy

Scott Shetler is a Seattle-based freelance writer & fan of indie rock, road trips, ice cream, squirrels on power lines, runaway shopping carts, and six-way intersections. Looking for a hotel? I always recommend Booking.com where you can easily compare hotel rooms, prices, and availability. Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, which may earn me a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.

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  1. Sad that they’re tearing it down! That’s such an iconic San Diego site. I’ll be headed there in June…I wonder if it will have survived through then.

  2. In August 2013, we saw either that same statue or an identical copy in the seaport in Naples, Italy very near where the cruise ships landed.

  3. That iconic pose is memorializing him violating her consent. Perhaps it is iconic, but not as a celebration of peace. It shows how little our culture cares about the agency of women.

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