Carmel sculpture celebrates iconic moment

This statue on Main Street is inspired by an iconic photograph. (Photo by Terri Horvath)

This statue on Main Street is inspired by an iconic photograph. (Photo by Terri Horvath)

By Terri Horvath

Throngs of people across the United States took to the city streets on Aug. 14, 1945, to celebrate the end of World War II. That feeling of euphoria was also felt in the rural backyards and small towns like Carmel. A nod to Carmel’s own World War II experiences is the statue outside 23 East Main Street. Sculptor J. Seward Johnson based his creation on one of the most iconic images showing that celebratory mood at the end of World War II—a photograph on Broadway in New York City.

Although verification was never been 100 percent proven, the accepted story behind the photo is that Glenn McDuffie heard about the Japanese unconditional surrender. He realized that his brother, in a Japanese prison camp, would be coming home. McDuffie was so overjoyed that he ran into the street and saw a nurse, later identified as Edith Shain. The spontaneous kiss between the two was captured by two photographers, Victor Jorgensen and Alfred Eisenstaedt. The next day Jorgensen’s photo appeared in the New York Times. A few days later Eisenstaedt’s image, which became better known, was published in Life magazine. The two photographs differ in that Eisenstaedt chose to capture a full body view with more of Broadway in the background.

The Jorgensen image, however, is the one that Johnson said inspired the sculpture, which he titled Unconditional Surrender installed in Carmel in 2004.

To view the original photos, visit


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