AN ICONIC 25ft statue will be unveiled at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard as part of the city’s D-Day commemorations.
The statue Embracing Peace, also known as Unconditional Surrender is due to be unveiled by D-day veterans on Sunday, June 2 before they travel to Normandy the following day.
Peter Goodship, consultant chief executive at Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust, said: ‘It is a fitting tribute and a key part of our commemorations. D-Day is widely regarded as the beginning of the end of the Second World War and so the title, Embracing Peace, epitomises this movement towards the end of the conflict. It is a fitting tribute to those who sacrificed their lives.’
At 7.5 metres tall, the statue will be in the dockyard between HMS Victory and the Mary Rose Museum.
The European replica of the US based original has been touring Europe to signify the outbreak of peace after the bloody conflict. After leaving Rome the statue was housed at Mémorial de Caen Museum in France before spending the last year in Belgium.
‘We agreed last year to bring the statue to the UK and for it to be based here in Portsmouth,’ said Mr Goodship. ‘It will be statue’s first time in the UK.
‘We were keen for it to coincide with the 75th commemoration of D-Day which was so pivotal in bringing peace to the world.’
The original statue depicts an embrace in Times Square, New York, at the end of the conflict, between a returning serviceman and a local girl. It was created by sculptor, Seward Johnson, based on a photograph which appeared in Life magazine celebrating VJ Day (Victory over Japan) and the end of the Second World War. Now 89, Seward also sculpted the replica statue which is to be temporarily based in Portsmouth.
Mr Goodship said: ’This has become such an iconic image because it pays homage to all those veterans of the Second World War and celebrates the jubilation of liberation and the outbreak of peace. It has become synonymous with the end of the conflict and represents a moment of relief from all those involved.’
The statue is due to arrive in the city next week where it will be based for the next 12 months, also marking the commemoration of VJ Day.
Despite the passing of more than seven decades since the end of the war the statue recently served as a reminder of the contrast between the horror of conflict and the hope of peace.
‘The statue was based in Belgium during the Paris terrorist attacks. It became a focal point for hundreds of French people who gathered around the statue in a collective outpouring of grief,’ said Peter.