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The Sailors Kiss: San Diego Attractions

In Tuna Harbour Park stands a statue that has become a staple piece for tourist attraction since late 2000s.

It depicts a sailor kissing a woman, and it has become immortalised in time.

But what’s the story behind the 25 feet tall statue?

The statue is a replica of the famous V-J in Times Square photograph, taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt. The photo was taken in Victory over Japan Day in Times Square, New York City, at the end of world war 2.

The photograph appeared on the cover of Life magazine, forever cementing its status as a memorable and now infamous moment in history.

Who is in the image?

The sailor is George Mendonsa, and the nurse is Mischa Elliot Friedman. Strangely, what is seen as two lovers reunited, is actually something different.

Mischa had previously told reporters that she didn’t know the sailor, and she didn’t see him coming before he approached her and kissed her. After the kiss, George simply left.

Since that time, George has said that he decided to kiss Mischa after he had consumed too many drinks. He said he was attracted to nurses, and that that if she ‘did not have a nurse’s uniform on, I honestly believe that I never would have grabbed her.’ They did not stay in touch after the kiss. It’s said that George kissed the nurse in front of his girlfriend, who he ended up marrying. Different times, hey?

Where can I see the statue?

San Diego has a prominent naval base. When I was there, it was common to see many men in army gear. So it makes sense that the kissing sailor statue, also known as Unconditional Surrender or Embracing Peace, is a stones throw away from the Maritime Museum and the USS Midway Museum. You will need to drive to visit the local, but there is parking along the harbour.

What else is there to do?

I would definitely recommend visiting the USS Midway Museum. A large naval aircraft carrier, the museum housed a large collection of aircraft, as well as history on life as a sailor.


In the wake of the Me-Too movement, the statue and the moment in history has become tainted. Many question if we should be celebrating the image when the kiss was not of Mischa’s consent. True, reading George’s words, they have sinister undertones.

However, many believe it was the era of the moment that is what is important. A celebratory occasion in Times Square after a victory in a tense moment of time would have had everyone’s emotions running high.

Whatever you may think, the statue, which is close to San Diego’s Maritime Museum, remains popular today.

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