World-famous statue could find a home on Sarasota bayfront

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SARASOTA, Fla. – In a town that’s already the home to a statue depicting one of the most well-known moments of the World War II era, a campaign is underway to bring another piece of history to Sarasota’s bayfront: an original monument showcasing perhaps the most iconic image of the second world war.

Fundraising is already underway to bring the original -- that's right, the original -- 1945 Iwo Jima memorial statue by Felix de Weldon to Sarasota.

The statue has been locked up in storage for years. But thanks to a couple of locals, if enough money is raised, the memorial will find a permanent home along the bayfront next to Unconditional Surrender.

In the decades following the end of the war, statues of the historic Iwo Jima moment were constructed and placed in cities and towns around the country, including one in Arlington. But to date, the original twelve and a half foot, 5 ton statue, built in 1945 by de Weldon, has yet to find a permanent home.

Last February it went unsold at an auction in New York.

“I called the owner of the statue and said ‘Sarasota wants it. We are going to get it and bring it here’,” says Thomas Savage of the Sarasota Public Art Fund, which is on a mission to raise about $1.4 million to do just that. “We have over 400,000 retired vets in this area. This means a great deal to this population, which is very patriotic,” says Savage.

And you couldn't ask for a more patriotic place to put it. The plans are to set it up right next to the Unconditional Surrender statue on Sarasota's bayfront, which depicts the famous V-J Day in Times Square photograph.

“It helps to bring back the memories of the terrible things people had to go through to bring freedom to us,” says visitor Jerry Duggan.

“I'll probably cry. I just buried my father, who was a World War II vet, and it will mean a lot to me to have that statue here,” says Sarasota resident Anne St. George.

A statue that symbolizes so much, to so many.

“This sculpture symobolizes a time on the field of battle where uncommon valor was a common virtue,” says Savage.

If all goes to plan and enough money is raised, the hope is to unveil the statue on November 10th of this year, which is the birthday of the United States Marine Corps.

If you'd like to learn how you can contribute, you may send checks to:

Iwo Jima Memorial Fund

Community Foundation of Sarasota County

2635 Fruitville Road

Sarasota, Florida 34237