Keeping the Spirit of ’45 Alive
America’s Greatest Generation will be celebrated and honored Sunday, August 11th, at two local events as part of Keep the Spirit of ’45 Alive national campaign. "Spirit of ’45 Day” is now observed in hundreds of communities around the country on the second Sunday of August, in recognition of the anniversary of August 14, 1945, the day President Harry S Truman announced the end of World War II. On Fort Myers Beach, Junkanoo’s is hosting dinner for WWII veterans and their guests at 4:30 p.m. The ceremonies honoring veterans will begin at 6pm.
"This is our second year working with Junkanoo on this event,” said Fort Myers Beach Vice-Mayor Joe Kosinski. "They are graciously providing 25 dinners to our special guests. We are also fundraising to provide dinners for every vet plus one guest or spouse.”
Reservations for the veterans and their guests are required and should be phoned in to Casey at 239-560-4682. That will allow organizers to get a headcount and to prepare adequate food for the August 11th event.
The VFW post on Pine Ridge Road is currently seeking donations to help offset the cost of dinner for WWII Veterans and their spouses or guests. Those interested in helping, should call Sharon at 239-463-0015, or drop a donation off at the VFW Post, 17770 Pine Ridge Road.
"A special thank you goes out to Alfredo, Neal and the staff at Junkanoo for all their help in planning this event,” said Vice-Mayor Kosinski. He said the Town first got the idea from a flyer they received from another city in 2011. That year, Pinchers provided the meal and LeeTran Trolleys provided transportation to Crescent Beach Family Park, where the ceremonies were held for the first ever Fort Myers Beach Keep the Spirit of ’45 Alive celebration.
Now in its third year, thanks to a 2011 proclamation from the Fort Myers Beach Town Council, Keep the Spirit of ‘45 Alive will feature a color guard presentation by local veterans’ organizations and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. That will be followed by a helicopter fly-over, a 21-gun salute, a wreath at sea ceremony and the National Anthem performed by Town Manager Terry Stewart. The event will wrap at 7 p.m. with the playing of Taps.
Vice-Mayor Kosinski is actively engaged with the local veteran’s organizations and coordinates the annual Keep the Spirit of ‘45 Alive event with his wife, Vernie. They are proud to honor and support the veterans in our community.
One other signature event for WWII vets is the south Lee County Spirit of ’45 celebration, which is being hosted by Crown Colony Golf and Country Club at 8851 Crown Colony Boulevard, August 11th beginning at 4:15 p.m. WWII Veterans and their spouses will be treated to dinner and a special tribute. The ceremony will include guest speakers, a wreath laying, 21-gun salute and Echo Taps to conclude the event at 7 p.m.
Event Coordinator Eryka Aptaker received a proclamation from the City of Fort Myers naming August 11, 2013 as Spirit of ‘45 Day. Mayor Henderson encourages "all citizens to pay tribute to our veterans for their service to our country.”
"I have been given the privilege to be the Lee County Chair for this wonderful nationwide initiative since 2011,” said Aptaker. "Its sole purpose is to honor our wonderful WWII veterans by spreading this as far and wide as we can so that their legacy will live on throughout the generations to come. Holding a veteran’s event to honor them with an elegant, respectful dinner and service is the best way I can think of to say ‘thank you’ for all that they have given us.” Aptaker was part of the first Fort Myers Beach celebration and has since coordinated efforts in Bonita Springs in 2012 and this year in Fort Myers.
The public is welcome to attend both Spirit of ‘45 events. Dinner for the non-veteran guests at Crown Colony is $20 per person and reservations are requested no later than August 6th. To make a reservation for the Crown Colony Spirit of ‘45 celebration, contact Eryka Aptaker at 800-527-5395, ext. 852.
Two years ago, Congress designated the second Sunday in August as a national day of observance to commemorate the end of World War II. This year marks the 67th Anniversary of that historic and world changing event. The national observance of this special day includes "Taps Across America” at 7 p.m., beginning in the Eastern Time Zone and ending at 7 p.m. in Hawaii. In honor of that tradition, Taps will also be a part of the closing ceremony at both local events, in Fort Myers and on the beach.
The Island Sand Paper is proud to honor and say "thank you” to all veterans who have served our country and now call our community home.