Members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart at the gravesite of Senator Dan Inouye, where the final wreath laying ceremony of the 70th Anniversary around the world Tribute will take place on Sunday, August 16, 2015.
How the Tribute began: A Spirit of '45 Day Annual Tradition
One of the cornerstones of Spirit of '45 Day each year has been the "Tribute to America's Greatest Generation" -- a cross country wreath laying ceremony that takes place in hundreds of communities on the second Sunday in August.
The number of these community ceremonies has increased steadily each year since 2010, as communities across America take this opportunity to honor the courage, shared sacrifice, can do attitude, and selfless service of the men and women who were the ordinary heroes of the WWII generation, so that their legacy will continue to inspire future generations of Americans, especially the youth of our country.
Sen. Inouye served during WWII as a member of the famous all Japanese American 442nd Combat Infantry Regiment, losing an arm in a grenade explosion. He received many military honors, including the Medal of Valor, and continued to serve his country as an elected official from the state of Hawaii and was the President pro tempore of the United States Senate from 2010 until his death on December 17, 2012. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously.
Spirit of '45 WWII 70th Anniversary Commemoration Tribute
(Left) Representatives of major veterans organizations, elected officials and Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive coalition partners announced preparations for the 70th Anniversary commemoration at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. (Right) In Hawaii, Dr. Richard Small of the Military Order of the Purple Heart and Jay Morford, President, Hawaiian Memorial Life Plan, Ltd. (Dignity Memorial) and Mel Kalahiki, Manager, Borthwick Mortuary (Dignity Memorial) placed a wreath at the grave of the late Senator Dan Inouye, who passed away on December 17, 2012. Read the press release...
In 2015, members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) were asked by their National Commander Pat Little to organize Tribute wreath laying ceremonies in their communities. The Ladies Auxiliary of the MOPH created handmade wreaths for their ceremonies
Pat Little, National Commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, announces "Tribute" in Times Square on August 14, 2014. Pat's first act as National Commander was to honor the memory of fellow Army veteran Felix Sparks, who led the 3rd Army Battalion of the 157th Infantry Regiment that liberated Dachau concentration camp on April 29, 1945. Pat and his colleagues were joined by Sparks' wife Mary and members of his family.
Members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart will be holding its "Tribute" at the World War II Memorial in Savannah, GA.
Navy League Members to Pay Tribute to All Seaborne Services
In July 2014, the Board of Directors of the Navy League voted unanimously to encourage its members to participate in Spirit of '45 Day, who are being asked to organize or participate in wreath laying ceremonies at all of the Navy Memorial's "Lone Sailor" and "Homecoming" statues as part of the 2015 70th anniversary around the ceremony. Members are also being encouraged to support the surviving WWII era ships, a number of which are hosting special events in 2015.
Senior Living Communities and Care Givers
Since 2010, the American Society on Aging and the Assisted Living Federation of America have been promoting awareness and participation among its national network of senior living communities and care givers, and is helping spread the word about the 70th Anniversary Commemoration and the "Tribute."
Atria Senior Living has been hosting annual Spirit of '45 Day events at all of its 189 communities for the past three years, receiving the 2012 Spirit of '45 Day National Community Partner Award.
We Honor Veterans
Also participating in the 2015 "Tribute" are members of "We Honor Veterans," a joint program of the VA and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, that promotes regional veterans hospice partne rships among hospices that help serve the end-of-life needs of veterans and their families. "We Honor Veterans" has been a strong supporter of the ongoing campaign to encourage public participation in Spirit of '45 Day each year in August.
For example, in 2014, the Rhode Island Veterans Partnership, led by Beacon Hospice, an Amedysis company, hosted more than 20 ceremonies at different locations throughout the state.
This year, Elizabeth Hospice in San Diego held a media event on December 15, 2015, calling out to all Hospice Veterans Partnerships across the country to join them in organizing wreath laying ceremonies in their communities next August.
America's Funeral Homes participating in the Tribute
Funeral homes across the country are actively participating in the "Tribute."
For example, members of the Dignity Memorial network - the nation's largest provider of funeral and cemetery services - have been hosting events in their communities, and donating their signature Spirit of '45 wreaths to groups that organize ceremonies in their communities.
Carriage Services is encouraging all of its fellow funeral service and cemetery owners across America to host "WWII Family Reunions" on Sunday, August 16, to honor their loved ones who were members of our Greatest Generation.
Bugles Across America volunteers performing "Taps"
Bugles Across America has been supporting the annual "Tribute" by providing volunteer buglers who are recruited through the nonprofit's website which maintains a database of more than 7,000 buglers.
This past year, Auston O'Neill, Jr., a BAA member from Centreville, VA, traveled with his wife, Bonnie throughout the country in their motorhome to help publicize Spirit of '45 Day and raise public awareness about the upcoming 70th Anniversary commemoration. The Spirit of '45 Day National Unity Tour logged more than 45,000 miles, visiting over than 100 communities to encourage them to participate in the 2015 "Tribute."
Auston O'Neill, Jr. on tour: performing "Taps" at the Nevada State Veterans Home in Las Vegas, NV, shaking hands with Bugles Across America founder Tom Day at the Elks National Veterans Memorial, Chicago, IL. With Spirit of '45 Day national spokesman, Gen. James P. Thayer, at the Oregon State Veterans Home in Portland, OR that is named after him.
The American WWII War Orphans have also been actively participating in the annual "Tribute" in communities throughout America as a way to honor their fathers who were KIA during World War II.