Spirit of '45 
National Leaders
February 12 - 14,  2016
History Park
San Jose,  CA
Eligible organizations from more than a dozen states will be attending the 2016 Spirit of  '45 Day National Leaders Strategic Planning Conference that will be held this years at the History Park in San Jose, CA  on Valentine's Day weekend (February 12 - 14, 2016).
Attendees will review last year's successful 70th Anniversary Commemoration and develop a comprehensive strategic plan  75th anniversary activities commemorating important WWII events that will be taking place 2016 - 2020.

This year's Conference is co-hosted by the San Francisco Bay Area World War II Collaborative, with the support of Dignity Memorial, California Assemblyman Kansen Chu, and the San Jose Rotary Club.
Special Guests: 
  • Hershel "Woody" Williams, USMC veteran of the Battle of Iwo Jima, and one of the last 6 surviving recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor, whose foundation is helping create memorials honoring the Gold Stars of America in every state. 
  • Jerry Yellin, the P51 fighter pilot who flew the final combat mission of WWII on August 14, 1945, and is working with the Air Force Association and other groups to create a "WWII Airpower Wall of Honor" in time for the 70th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force in September 2017.  
Woody and Jerry were featured in the recent PBS documentary "Iwo Jima - From Combat to Comrades." 
  • Dr. E. Bruce Heilman, Chancellor of the University of Richmond, and Marine veteran of the Battle of Okinawa who rode his motorcycle 6,000 miles last May to honor America's Gold Star families on Memorial Day. 
 Right to left Hershel "Woody" Williams, Capt. Jerry Yellin, Dr. E. Bruce Heilman
Conference Agenda:
Friday - Feb 12 - 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  Workshop sessions will be held at the History Park in San Jose, CA where the first Spirit of '45 Day event was held in 2007  (Click here for a virtual tour of the Park)  More photos.
  • Review of 2015 
  • 2016 - 2020 projections
  • Breakout sessions to discuss public engagement projects 
  • Collaborative national/state/regional partnerships  
 Working sessions will be held on Friday and Saturday at San Jose's History Park
Friday - Feb 12 - 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.    A welcome "Meet & Greet" reception and press conference in the mezzanine lobby of San Jose's historic California Theater with Silicon Valley elected officials, corporate representatives and other special guests, honoring the families of America's Gold Stars, and Spirit of '45 spokesman Iwo Jima Marine veteran late Harold "Skip" Adams.    After the reception attendees are encouraged to take advantage of a variety of dining experiences within a 2 block radius of the Theater.
 WWII Gold Star Tommy Begley.  Exterior and interior views of San Jose's historic California Theater, built in 1927
Saturday - Feb 13 - 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Workshop sessions will continue at the History Park to develop a comprehensive integrated 2016 - 2020 game plan, including social media and fund raising strategies. 
Saturday night  - Feb 13 - 7:00 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.    The public is invited join Conference attendees at the Hotel De Anza for a Valentine's Day Eve party with good food and wine and dancing to the music of the '40's performed by the fabulous Swinging Blue Stars  as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the USO.   We'll also be celebrating the Spirit of '45 Day national spokesman Capt. (ret) Jerry Yellin's 92nd birthday with new public service announcements by Tom Selleck, Anne Roosevelt, and Loni Anderson.   Tickets for this event are $45 per couple.
 Swinging Blue Stars Cindy, Nancy and Cindy with USO "founding father" Bob Hope
  • Sunday morning (Feb 14) The Conference concludes with a working brunch hosted by Dignity Memorial at its Oak Hill Cemetery & Memorial.  Attendees will discuss and finalize plans for helping to promote an international campaign to collect the service photos of the 16 million who served in WWII so they can be displayed in a "Wall of Honor" on the National Mall in 2020, and be featured during annual Spirit of '45 Day Tributes that will be taking place around the world on Sunday, August 14, 2016.  The program concludes with a wreath laying in honor of the late Ernie Glave, a beloved San Jose WWII veteran and civic leader.
Hotel accommodations:
Based on feedback from previous year's conferences, attendees are free to choose their own hotels. Those staying in hotels in the Downtown San Jose area will be able to take advantage of the shuttle bus that will be taking attendees to and from the History Park which is approximately 2 miles from the city center.
Conference Fee:
The cost of the Conference is $200.00 per attendee, which covers a pro-rata cost of lunches, the welcome mixer, the Saturday night dinner dance, and other expenses.
Eligible attendees can remit payment on line by logging onto the Spirit of '45 web site, clicking on the "Donate" tab, and following instructions (be sure to designate that your payment is for the Spirit of '45 national leaders conference).
If you are not able to attend this year's conference, please contribute to the campaign effort by making a donation that can help ensure that we are able to continue to keep the Spirit of '45 alive in America during the coming years.
For more information, contact us at Info@Spiritof45.org 
The annual Spirit of '45 Day National Leaders Conference concludes each year with closing ceremonies at the giant 25ft Seward Johnson sculpture depicting the "Times Square Kiss" that stands in front of the USS Midway in San Diego's "Greatest Generation" Memorial Park.  
2014 Spirit of '45 Day National Leaders Conference
Click here for the 2014 Conference description
Click here for the 2014 Conference Program Brochure 
2013 Spirit of '45 Day National Leaders Conference:  
Click here for the 2013 Program Brochure 
2012 Spirit of '45 National Leaders Conference: 
Click here for the 2012 Program Brochure 
 Gala banquet hosted by the San Diego Air Museum, honoring Chuck Yeager and his fellow WWII veterans Bob Hoover and Gen. Robert Cardenas who flew with Yeager on his historic flight that broke the sound barrier.  Six companies that were part of America's "Arsenal of Democracy." were also honored during the evening.
 (Right) Aviation legends Bob Hoover, Gen. Robert Cardenas and Chuck Yeager.  Arsenal of Democracy Awardees honored during the 2012 Conference were General Motors, Chysler, Ford, Boeing, Lockheed, and Northrop Grumman.
The 2012 Spirit of '45 National Leaders Conference was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the more than 125 attendees who came from 34 states to share experience and ideas for taking Spirit of '45 Day to  a whole new level.
Highlights of the 2012 included the presentation of awards to six American companies that were central to the "Arsenal of Democracy" during WWII.    The companies were honored during a gala banquet hosted by the San Diego Air Museum.
Honored were General Motors, Ford Motors, the Chrysler Corporation, Boeing Company, Lockheed Martin and Northrop.  Representatives of all six companies were on hand to receive their awards which were announced on the 70th anniversary of President Franklin Roosevelt's famous "Arsenal of Democracy" radio speech on December 19, 1945.
Click here  for the audio and text of FDR's "Arsenal of Democracy" speech 
Click here to read the "Arsenal of Democracy" media release. 
Click on company name for their acceptance comments 
Click here to read about the 2012 Arsenal of Democracy Awards 
2012 Arsenal of Democracy Awards video
Click here for the closing ceremonies
in front of the "Times Square Kiss."
Nell Calloway, grand daughter of General Claire Chennault, speaks at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Conference.  Nell is the executive director of the Chennault Aviation & Military Museum in Monroe, LA, and has served as Spirit of '45 Day Ambassador during the past two years.  She recently visited China where discussions are underway for a joint commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII which is celebrated by the Chinese people as a day of national liberation.