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Royal Oak Approves 25ft Statue for 13 and Woodward

dickeys top SUPERHERORoyal Oak Approves 25ft 711 ad pizzaStatue for 13 and Woodward

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Feb. 9, 2016)

Royal Oak, MI – On August 15, 1945 news of Japan’s surrender spread around the world, prompting mass celebrations of the end of war. In the heat of celebration an intoxicated sailor began randomly grabbing strangers in Times Square and kissing them. A photographer captured one of the kisses and the image became a symbol embraced by a generation.

The photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt became famous, and even inspired an artist Seward Johnson to make a statue of the kiss. Standing 25 feet tall, “Unconditional Surrender” will soon grace the area of 13 Mile and Woodward. Royal Oak City Commission voted unanimously Monday to allow Schrock2015_SmilingFace_adthe statue to be placed on or near Memorial Park, which is where a World War II Memorial is expected to eventually go.

Debi Hollis and Russell Levine of The Michigan WWII Legacy Memorial attended the Commission meeting to answer questions about the plan. The nonprofit board behind the memorial will be funding the statue’s presence for one year along with the cost of erection. The City will pay for insurance.

When asked how much the cost to the memorial board would be, Hollis, who is President of the group, said that her board has decided not to make that information public. She did note that the money would come from donors who specifically earmarked their gifts for it, not from people who donated to the memorial itself. Hollis said the group will have to do some more fundraising to cover the cost, but that once the money is raised it will not be long before the statue is erected.

The goal, she said, is “to make this a statewide marketing effort… We run into a lot of people Judy_Palmer30yearswho haven’t heard about the project. It will be hard for them not to see this, and that gives us those conversation starters, and something we can talk about.” The hope is those conversations will lead to donations for the main project, a memorial to serve as Michigan’s tribute to those who lost their lives in World War II.

Hollis said that 1.4 million people visited the statue when it was in San Diego, and that people would come from all around Michigan to see the one here.

When asked about the controversial subject matter – a non-consensual embrace and kiss – she was unconcerned. “No press is bad press,” she said. “There may be pockets of people here and there that don’t like it, but we live in a democracy. Majority rules, and the majority voted they want this here.”

“With anything this big there will always be controversy,” Levine, Vice President of the MBREW draft onememorial board, said.

The issue for the City Commission was not whether it belonged, but where to put it and how to keep it clean.

“I worry about birds,” said Mayor Jim Ellison. Hollis said the sample contract given to her included a provision for cleaning by the statue owners. City Manager Don Johnson said that the Star Dream statue located near City Hall only needs one cleaning per year.

“I support the project, but concerns are just related to where to put the statue, said Commissioner David Poulton. “This weekend we had just a few protesters at that corner and they were causing a traffic issue.” The group was about six people who stood near the bus stop holding signs in support of the people impacted by the Flint water crisis.

Commissioners discussed potential placement options and ultimately decided to adopt the resolution with the location to be determined, though it will most likely go at or near Memorial Park, the future home of The National WWII Legacy Memorial.

The statue will be in Royal Oak for one year. To learn more about The Michigan WWII Legacy Memorial visit

dickeys bottom SUPERHERO

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