Spirit of '45
70th Anniversary Weekend
kicks off in
A giant animated mosaic of wedding photos of the Greatest Generation is displayed on the jumbo video screens of Walgreens Times Square store at 42nd and Broadway each year on the anniversary of the famous Kiss on August 14. (Right) Tuskegee Airman kisses his wife in front of the monumental sculpture created by Seward Johnson during the 2010 Spirit of '45 Times Square "Kiss In."
The Spirit of '45 70th Anniversary Commemoration Weekend will kick off with a press announcement in Times Square at noon on Friday, August 14, during a mass re-enactment of the famous kiss that became the symbol of hope, love and freedom around the world - and the Spirit of '45!
WWII Navy veterans Ray and Ellie Williams of Blairsville, GA, who will be celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary on August 15, will represent the men and women of America's "Greatest Generation" at the Times Square kick off event.
Ray served aboard USS Cowpens, CVL-25, a light aircraft carrier that earned 12 battle stars during WWII. The "Mighty Moo" was the first American carrier to enter Tokyo Harbor and its crew were the first to set foot on the Japanese mainland. Ellie served as a WAVE during the war, receiving her basic training at Hunter College, NYC.
Kick off announcements will be made simultaneously in front of the monumental "Kiss" sculptures in at noon in Sarasota, FL and in San Diego, CA at 9 a.m. PST, and later that day at Battleship Cove in Fall River, MA, the Battleship Iowa in Los Angeles, and the Battleship Missouri in Pearl Harbor.
Seward Johnson's monumental depiction of the "Times Square Kiss" stand permanently in in Sarasota, FL, (l) and San Diego, CA (r), will be brought into New York's Times Square for the week of August 9 - 16 to promote public awareness about the Spirit of '45 70th Anniversary Commemoration. Below, life sized sculptures at USS Iowa and USS Missouri. Congressman Joe Kennedy III will be the featured speaker at the kick off ceremonies at Battleship Cove, Fall River, MA on August 14.
The Williams will be joined by family members and other WWII couples whose photos are included in the annual video mosaic of the famous photograph of a joyous sailor kissing a nurse on the day America learned that the most destructive war in human history had ended and spontaneous celebrations broke out across the country (and sparking the beginning of the Baby Boom!)
The video mosaic is made up of more than a thousand photographs of couples like Ray and Ellie who married during the '40's and is displayed on Walgreens jumbo screens throughout the day on August 14 as a congratulatory message to the Greatest Generation on the anniversary of their greatest day.
A Place for Mom, Atria Senior Living, and the American Society on Aging are participating in this ongoing program by inviting the senior living and care giving organizations to help publicize the program and encourage families to submit their loved ones photos so they can become included in this annual celebration of the love and lives of the couples of the WWII generation.
On Sunday, August 16, the couple will lay a wreath at the East Coast World War II Memorial in Battery Park in Lower Manhattan to honor FDR and the 16 million Americans who served in the war, as buglers sound "Taps" to conclude the Weekend and signal the beginning of the cross country Tribute that will end in Hawaii later that day.
Ray and Ellie were among the military personnel who lined the route of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's funeral train as it carried the Commander In Chief on his final journey from Warm Springs, GA to Washington, D.C. Ellie was assigned to the contingent of Navy Waves who assembled in formation at the Gainesville Railway Station to give a farewell salute.
"Even the train's whistle had a sad and somber tone," remembers Ray.
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2014 kick off in Times Square
On August 14, 2014, a group of WWII veterans gathered under the Walgreens sign to announce the countdown to a 70th Anniversary Commemoration in 2015.
WWII veteran Sydnor Thompson and his wife, Harriette, of Charlotte, NC, re-enacted the famous "kiss seen 'round the world" during at the press event held in Times Square on August 14, 2014 to officially announce the beginning of the countdown to the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. More...
The August 14, 2014 press event in Times Square attracted by international media interest, and was covered by Newsday, the Wall Street Journal and other leading news outlets. More...
Click here to see more photos of the 2014 media event.
Click here to read August 14, 2014 media release announcing the beginning of the countdown to the 70th Anniversary of the end of World War II that will be celebrated on the weekend of August 14 - 16, 2015. Additional events and activities arssse being planned throughout the year.
During the 2012 press conference held in front of the Walgreens Time Square store, Jerry Telson, District Manager for New York City operations, received a Spirit of '45 National Leaders Medal in recognition of his company's support for the observance of National Spirit of '45 Day.
The medal was presented by National Spirit of '45 Day spokesman Dr. Roscoe Brown, and Joy Beebe, a British WWII war bride from Salem, OR, whose wedding photos was included among the hundreds in the "Kiss" mosaic. Ms. Beebe also participated in the "Wall of Honor" ceremony in Washington, D.C. which included her husband's photo. She and her daughters, Barbara and Vivian have been instrumental in helping the WWII War Brides Association play a leading role in publicizing the WWII Couples project.
Following the press conference, Walgreen's management and staff invited the group to a "wrap party" to enjoy some refreshments and pose for photos with the Kiss mosaic.
"What a day!" said Frank Caldwell, who served in the Pacific. "This is like a dream come true -- celebrating the day we learned we could all go home-- and in Times Square!"
Prior to the press conference, the group assembled in front of a life sized edition of artist Seward Johnson's famous sculpture depicting the "Kiss" that was placed in Time Square's Duffy Plaza by the Sculpture Foundation to commemorate the Day.
Joy Beebe and her daughter, Barbara, in Times Square with photos of Joy's husband Carl during the August 14, 2012 event hosted by Walgreens.