The Spirit of ’45 Lives


Within our midst lives a generation that took on evil in World War II, defending not just the United States, but Great Britain, France, Canada, Greece and others – millions of people from the tyranny of the Axis powers. They are frequently dismissive of their own sacrifice as young men and women and their numbers are fading. A growing number of Americans are working to make sure they are remembered.

“Keep the Spirit of ’45 Alive” is an ongoing campaign to ensure this generation’s legacy is never forgotten. Their efforts to “establish an annual day of remembrance and national renewal to remind America of the values and accomplishments of the generation who endured the hard times of the Great Depression, fought to defeat the greatest tyranny in history, and then went on to rebuild their shattered world in an unprecedented effort to help assure a better future for both friend and former foe alike.”

In 2010 the United States Congress unanimously passed a resolution designating the second Sunday of August as “Spirit of ’45 Day.” The day was chosen to commemorate August 14, 1945 – VJ or Victory over Japan Day and the end of World War II.

Beginning in 2011, local ceremonies have marked the day. This year, Lee County will celebrate Spirit of ’45 Day on Sunday, August 14, 2016 beginning at 4:14pm at Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort with a tribute to WW II veterans including Color Guard, Guns N’ Hoses Pipes N’ Drums performance a wreath service, POW/MIA recognition and Echo Taps. The San Carlos Park Fire & Rescue Color Guard will participate, as will the Lee County Sheriff Honor Guard. Sheriff Mike Scott is expected to attend also.

Veterans of WW II and their spouses of the WW II generation may participate for free. For all others the cost is only $25/person. Reservations must be made by August 4th for the event. Call Eryka at 917-607-4385 for reservations. All are welcome. Last year 350 people attended the event, 80-90 of them WWII vets.

Eryka Aptaker, the Lee County event coordinator since its inception in 2011, is looking forward to the event honoring veterans and encourages the entire community to join them.

“We’ll have five World War II speakers this year, two of them from Fort Myers Beach: Huggy Ellyatt and Chuck Golden!”

This year is pretty special, Aptaker explained.

“This year, the Spirit of ’45 celebration is held on the exact date, August 14th – 71 years from the end of the war. A lot of people don’t realize how rare that occurrence is.”

“Keep the Spirit of ’45 Alive” will be held Sunday, August 14, 2016, 4:15-7:15pm at the Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort, 17260 Harbour Pointe Dr., Fort Myers. To make your reservations call Eryka 917-607-4385 by August 4, 2016.

Missy Layfield