'Kiss' Statue Construction Underway

A bronze replica of the original should be complete by February

By Lauren Steussy
|  Thursday, Dec 27, 2012  |  Updated 3:05 PM PDT
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Images: Midway Museum San Diego

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Farewell to Kissing Statue

Visitors to the embarcadero felt bittersweet emotions as the statue of two Navy sweethearts kissing on the San Diego waterfront was disassembled Wednesday and shipped off to New Jersey for restoration.
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The 25-foot famous statue of two Navy sweethearts is gone but not forgotten -- and now it is returning in another form. 

Construction on a bronze replica of the statue "Unconditional Surrender" has begun, now that the permanent sculpture has been cast. 

In May, the original statue was disassembled and shipped off to New Jersey for restoration. It was on loan to the Port since 2007, but when the loan expired, the USS Midway Museum promised to raise nearly million-dollars for the bronze replacement.

Now, the turf is being removed and construction should begin soon. The new area will feature benches and Japanese friendship cherry trees. 

An unveiling ceremony is scheduled for February 16. 

The image of the couple kissing was captured first by a TIME Magazine photographer in 1945 at the end of WWII.

The statue's replacement has drawn major criticism from local leaders and members of the public. Two of the port's public art commissioners quit after the board decided to keep the statue. However, support for the statue's message convinced the museum to campaign for a replacement.

The Midway held an aggressive "Save the Kiss" campaign to come up with the money needed to fund the replica. It agreed to match donations up to $100,000 as part of the campaign. It took just two months to raise the money needed.

The bronze replica will be also be more durable and weather resistant, museum officials said.

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