Hundreds of communities from the East Coast to Hawaii celebrated National Spirit of '45 Day with large and small events and activities, including observances during the 18 Major League Baseball games that showed the Spirit of '45 Day public service announcement. Reports "from the front" are still coming in, but here are some of the highlights of the Day:
120 ft "Wall of Honor" banner was displayed at the National World War II Memorial on August 11th during the visit of Honor Flight San Antonio (photo courtesy of Stephen Brown)
Fold3.com and Hewlett-Packard team up to produce "Wall of Honor" and "Times Square Kiss" mosaic to honor the Unsung Heroes and Couples of WWII
The 120 ft "Wall" included the faces of WWII veterans and more than 400 heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice during the war. The "Wall" was displayed at the National World War II Memorial on Saturday, August 11, during the visit by Alamo Honor Flight from San Antonio. The “Wall” was on view again on Sunday for the "end-of-the Day" wreath laying ceremony that concluded with a performance of "Taps" by Auston O'Neill and Steve Tracy of Bugles Across America.
Click here to view the "Wall of Honor" in detail.
Click here to see photos of the "Wall" display at the National WWII Memorial (courtesy Stephen B. Brown)
Walgreen's hosts Times Square closing ceremony with "Congratulations!" to WWII Generation on their "Greatest Day"
Fold3 also compiled the hundreds of photos of couples who got together during the '40's to create a mosaic of the famous "Times Square Kiss" that was displayed in Times Square on the 67th anniversary of the day World War II ended on August 14, 1945. The images from the mosaic were used by Walgreen's to create a congratulatory message to the "Greatest Generation" that was shown on its jumbo screens at its Times Square store. Walgreen's hosted a press conference
in front of its store featuring WWII seniors and Girl Scouts. The Sculpture Foundation brought in a 6 ft version of Seward Johnson's famous 25 ft sculpture depicting the "Kiss" that was featured in the inaugural National Spirit of '45 Day event in Times Square on August 14, 2010.
Click here to see Walgreen's Congratulatory message.
Click here to view the "Times Square Kiss" mosaic in detail on Fold3.com
Click here to see photos of the August 14 press conference (courtesy David Steele)
Stars and Stripes Honor Flight Wisconsin sets Guinness World Record with "Field of Honor - Salute to the Greatest Generation" at Milwaukee's Miller Stadium
More than a year in preparation, "Field of Honor - A Salute to the Greatest Generation", was a once-in-a-generation event that re-united thousands of WWII veterans one last time. The evening program, which set a Guinness World Record for attendance, featured the world premiere of a feature length documentary film that captures the stories, spirit, and wisdom of surviving WWII veterans. All proceeds from the event will be used to fly veterans to see their memorials that stand in their honor.
We're already looking forward to the sequel!
See an excerpt of the film here
See photos of the event here.
National Partner VITAS Innovative Hospice organizes events in more than 30 cities
No organization has done more to help keep the Spirit of '45 alive in America than the management, staff and volunteers of the country's largest hospice provider.
VITAS Innovative Hospice has a strong commitment to providing specialized end-of-life support to veterans and their families, and is often in the best position to assure members of the "greatest generation" that America will always remember them on the second Sunday in August. Vitas has created its own KS45A kit to support its Spirit of '45 activities that it organizes throughout the year. For the third year, VITAS organized Spirit of '45 Day event in communities in California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia Here's an example of a VITS sponsored event Fair Acres Veterans keep the 'Spirit of '45 alive!
VFW and American Legion National Commanders express support for National Spirit of '45 Day
The National Commanders of the two largest veterans service organizations expressed their support for National Spirit of '45 Day. Several American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts sponsored events this August to observe the Day.
Click here to read American Legion National Commander Fang Wong's letter of support.
Click here to read VFW National Commander Richard L. DeNoyer's letter of support
Major League Baseball Teams show Dr. Roscoe Brown's PSA during their August games
Major League Baseball clubs observed National Spirit of '45 Day this year by screening the Spirit of '45 Day message by Dr. Roscoe Brown, Jr. the legendary Tuskegee Airman, educator and civic activist who was the chief consultant to George Lucas' feature film "Red Tails." Several teams invited WWII veterans on the field during their games.
Atria Senior Living communities host Spirit of '45 Day Events
Atria Senior Living set a new industry standard this year by having Spirit of '45 Day events at all 125 of its independent and assisted living communities in located in 27 states. Atria residents were active participants in this year's "Couples" project, hosting dozens of "whistle stops" during the Spirit of '45 Express tour that traveled across the country in May- June and contributing hundreds of photos that were included in the mosaic of the "kiss seen 'round the world" that was displayed on Walgreen's jumbo screens in Times Square on August 14. Atria communities in California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina,, Georgia, Alabama, Texas and Arizona welcomed the "Express" during the 10,000 miles, 5-week campaign tour.
CareMore sponsors San Jose Giants game to cap Silicon Valley "Spirit of '45 Week"
CareMore joined forces with Dignity Memorial to sponsor the August 12th San Jose Giants baseball game, complete with fireworks and special guest appearances by WWII veterans and their families. The game was the climax of a week of events and activities that took place in San Jose this year(see below). CareMore also helped organize Spirit of '45 Day events in Apple Valley, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Modesto, Riverside, San Bernadino, Santa Ana, Stanislaus, and Victorville.
History San Jose has first "Spirit of '45 Week"
San Jose enjoyed a full week of activities, beginning with a VIP Reception on August 3 with special guest Nell Calloway, grand daughter of General Claire Chennault of the legendary "Flying Tigers," sponsored by members of the Silicon Valley Chapter of the Global Alliance for Preserving the History of WWII in Asia. A full day of activities took place in the 14-acre History Park, featuring live '40's entertainment, WWII re-enactors and vehicles and exhibits by more than two dozen organization filled the 14-acre History Park. San Jose Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen and U.S. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren honored the Girls Scouts on their 100th anniversary and the Scouts presented Zoe with the Spirit of '45 National Leaders Medal for her support for Spirit of '45 Day during the past several years.
The day ended with a 222nd birthday party for the US Coast Guard during which a personal message from the Coast Guard Commandant was delivered by WWII veteran and Spirit of '45 National Advisor Marv Modell. The week included a festival of films documenting the achievements of the "unsung heroes" of WWII and concluded with a special evening game at San Jose Giants Stadium complete with fireworks.
Navy Memorial honors National Spirit of '45 Day Spokesman Ernie Borgnine
The Navy Memorial began a new tradition this year by honoring Hollywood legend and WWII Navy veteran Ernest Borgnine with a special wreath laying ceremony at the "Lone Sailor" statue that stands in front of the Memorial in Washington, D.C. Paul Haley, Director of Development, led the ceremony, which included comments by VITAS Innovative Hospice's Thad Jaracz and "Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive!" national coordinator Warren Hegg. Auston O'Neill and Steve Tracy of Bugles Across America performed "Amazing Grace," "Going Home," and "Taps" at the conclusion of the ceremony. Terry Shotkoski and his colleagues from Joseph Grawler's Sons attended the ceremony and provided the wreath.
A community group led by Kaylynne Northcutt held a similar ceremony later in the day at the "Lone Sailor" statue in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, attended by representatives of VITAS and the Daughters of the Revolution (DAR), with a wreath donated by Dignity Memorial.
Photos from the Spirit of 45 Ceremony for Ernest Borgnine
(Courtesy Jeff Malet)
San Diego Honor Flight and Veterans Museum host Spirit of '45 Day in Balboa Park
The Veterans Museum and Memorial in San Diego held its 3rd annual Spirit of '45 Day event in Balboa Park
on Sunday, August 12. This year's event attracted several hundred participants thanks to the support of San Diego
Honor Flight and local Girl Scouts who helped WWII veterans scan their photos for a San Diego version of the
"Wall of Honor" that was displayed in front of the National WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C. The Girl Scouts
will carry poster sized versions of their WWII vets' photos in San Diego's annual Veterans Day Parade in November,
and will serve as escorts at the closing ceremonies of the Spirit of '45 National Leaders Conference that will be
held in San Diego in February.
McHenry, IL keeps the Spirit of '45 alive
For the third year in a row, Ron Bykowski and his colleagues put together another great event for their community, as this email attests:
Read about McHenry's event Letter to the Editor, Northwest Herald
I would like to share with you my daughter's story from the ceremony on Sunday.
As a family, I have to say that we were absolutely privileged to be a part of such a wonderful event this past Sunday at Veteran's Park, here in McHenry. The entire event was heartwarming, and it also helped my family to remember the sacrifices that the men and women of our country have done for all of us.
During the ceremony we were sitting very close to veteran. This veteran was sadly in his wheelchair, which indicated that his health may not be the best. During the ceremony I would glance over at him, and there would be tears in his eyes, and on his cheeks. It broke my heart.
My little girl Zoe who is eight, asked me why the man was crying. I told her to the best of my ability what I thought he might be feeling, and why. I told her that he protected people like her and I, and everyone that we love. That he took time away from his very own family, to make sure strangers like us were safe, and could continue to be free.
She looked at me, and I told her that I would talk more about it after the ceremony, that we needed to listen to the rest of the ceremony, as taps had begun to play.
As the ceremony came to an end, she took my hand and asked me if she could talk to the man that had "all those tears." She then asked me if I would go with her. So we walked the very short distance to him, and I told him my daughter wanted to talk with him. He looked at Zoe, and my little girl said these words:
"I want to thank you for protecting me, and my family, and for keeping everyone safe".
The veteran looked at her and fresh tears started, but I could tell that her thanking him made him feel good. I, of course, was crying, and I hugged him and thanked him myself. I was so proud of my daughter, that she talked to the veteran, and that she really understands that there are complete strangers everyday protecting us. I am also proud that she was humble enough not to be shy, and was able to actually thank him.
Again Ron, thank you for such a wonderful event. The Boxlietner family will attend every year!!
Utah's Bugles Across America organizes Spirit of '45 Day program in Salt Lake City
Click here to view a slideshow of images documenting this third annual event. Click here to view program description.
Bugles Across America team in Martinsville, IN keeps the Spirit of '45 alive for the third year in a row
"We had a wonderful time in Martinsville this year with 173 in attendance, music - including 9 buglers performing "Echo Taps" - laughter and a few tears." Bruce McKee
Click here to view the Martinsville, IN "Spirit of '45" Facebook page.
American Legion Post 554 in League City, TX hosts 3rd annual Spirit of '45 Day celebration
American Legion Post 554 hosted the 3rd annual "Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive" event at their Post home on August 12th with eight WWII Veterans and their families in attendance, three of whom were over 90 years old. The event ended with the playing of Taps by members of the DISD band program directed by Mary Santarelli, Jr. Special guests in attendance were Marty Peters, ALA Dept. of Texas President, Mary Waddell, immediate Past President ALA Dept of Texas, Twyla Greer, ALA 9th District President, Gracie Huddleston, Junion ALA President, Dept. of Texas, authors Rene Armstrong (Wings and a Ring) and A.J. High (Meant to Fly), and Bill Buchanan who at 93 still volunteers and has logged over 2300 hours of service. Guests enjoyed looking at all of the pictures posted on the Wall of Honor, meeting the Veterans, visiting with the authors and the refreshments!
Traveler's Rest Celebrates "Spirit of '45 Day" in South Carolina
Salt Lake City
National D-Day Memorial, Bedford, VA
"Close of Day" ceremonies held at National Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl), Hawaii