USS Midway Museum officials Thursday announced a new fundraising effort to replace the outgoing "Unconditional Surrender" statue at the Embarcadero.
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Organizers said the private portion of the "Save the Kiss" campaign raised about $600,000 of the $850,000 needed to bring the new statue to the bay.
The original -- a likeness of the iconic photograph of a sailor and nurse embraced in a kiss in New York's Times Square at the end of World War II -- is scheduled to leave next month.
Midway Museum President and CEO Mac McLaughlin said six local citizens have pledged $600,000 toward the effort to replace the statue with a permanent one. The remaining funds will be raised through the museum's fundraising campaign.
10News learned the following people each pledged $100,000: developer Malin Burnham, developer Bob Wilson (who owns the Fish Market), developer Tom Sudberry, developer Jeff Bradley, biotech guru Jim Slattery and developer/publisher Doug Manchester
McLaughlin also said the Midway Museum will match the first $100,000 donated by the public.
The goal is to end fundraising by Memorial Day and to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the replacement statue on December 7.
"This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to honor the 16 million men and women who defended America in World War II," McLaughlin said. "We are proud to offer San Diego the opportunity to add its voice to the chorus of Americans who honor our men and women in uniform."
The proposed 25-foot-high replacement statue would be placed near the Midway and would include a line of cherry trees and a "Walk of Honor."
"Hundreds of tourists and local residents visit 'The Kiss' every day," McLaughlin said.
Navy wife Lily Diorio told 10News, "This is the symbol for the military; coming home from other countries and fight for our country."
Wayne Jones, who served in the Navy, added, "You look across here and know the city of San Diego respects the military here. I just see it as a symbol of continued patriotism; all the guys who served and come back. Just remind them, 'Welcome home.'"
The new statue will be made of bronze, ensuring it will remain in place for a very long time, officials said.
"I think it's very special that San Diego's going to rescue the 'Kiss' and keep it here as a statue that represents the Greatest Generation, the end of World War II," said McLaughlin.
Learn more about the "Save the Kiss" fundraising effort by clicking here
Those who donate $500 will have their named etched into bricks on the sidewalk leading past the monument.
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