Unconditional Surrender Statue
San Diego, California
If the photograph of raising the American flag on Iwo Jima is the quintessential World War II icon for triumph in a just war, then "Unconditional Surrender" is the icon for the just rewards of victory. Who doesn't love that image of a sailor in Times Square on V-J (Victory over Japan) Day grabbing the nearest gal -- a nurse -- and trading anonymous spit?
The original image of the moment was captured by photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt on August 14, 1945. J. Seward Johnson is the sculptor of this version, though there has been some debate whether it is actually based on the famous photo. In any event, tourists and old veterans love it, assuming the same pose with a loved one at its base, or just peeking up the nurse's skirt.
Local art critics were less pleased. The 25-ft. tall "monstrosity" has been criticized as a gaudy and lame imitation of the photo, and an eyesore for the community. The same reaction occurred to a lesser degee in Sarasota, where an identical copy of the statue stands.
Locals, however, love the statue. And right next to it is the Bob Hope memorial plaza, chock full of even more sappy sculptures to irk the critics.
Update: Glenn McDuffie, who claimed that he was the smooching sailor, died at age 86 on March 9, 2014. He spent the last several years of his life charging women $10 to take a picture of themselves kissing him on the cheek.