Gathering at the base of Unconditional Surrender recalls sacrifices, makes clear support for bayfront location of statue.
Veterans, families and well-wishers took time out of a hot Friday afternoon to pay homage to American and Allied forces on the 75th anniversary of VJ Day, emblematic of the announcement of Japan's surrender, ending World War II.
City Commissioner Hagen Brody read a proclamation to the 100 or so gathered along Tamiami Trail. He was joined at the podium by Jim Berger, the commander of Sarasota's VFW Post 3233; Carlos Moreira, president of the Sarasota County Veterans Commission and Jan Hamel, who delivered an opening prayer.
Other veterans groups, such as the American Legion, also attended. Post 159 from Venice served as the event's color guard.
Berger made clear in his remarks that the veterans organizations in the area support the bayfront location of the statue inspired by photojournalist Alfred Eisenstaedt's iconic Times Square image, taken on Aug. 14, 1945.
The statue will be moved to accommodate road construction in 2021, raising conversations about where to move it or if the city wishes to keep it.
"This statue is ours,'' he told the crowd, to applause.
U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Longboat Key), offered his support for the statue in a statement released after the VJ Day ceremony.
“The statue is an iconic piece of Sarasota’s Bayfront and represents a celebration of the end of World War II,'' his statement read. "I have heard from many veterans and others in our community who strongly support keeping the statue right where it is and I agree with them -- it should not be relegated to some less-prominent location. ''