News :: Our 2010 Campaign Kick-Off event!

January 20, 2010

(Pictures are being transferred from our old site; thank you for your patience!)
On January 18, 2010 KEEP THE SPIRIT OF ’45 ALIVE National Spokespersons Hugh O’Brian and Edith Shain were joined by nearly 600 guests including members of the “Greatest Generation,” elected officials, veterans organizations, teachers, youth leaders to officially announce the start of the 2010 Spirit of ’45 campaign, during the Second Annual National Call to Service, held in San Diego, CA

Veterans Department of California
AMVETS California Service Foundation
California Veterans Home of Chula Vista
California Veterans Home of Barstow
Brookdale Senior Living
Chancellor Place of Murrieta
Brookdale Place of San Marcos
Disabled American Veterans
US Army
US Marine Corps
US Navy
US Air Force
US Coast Guard
US Merchant Marines
US Marine Corps Drill Instructors Association
Gold Star Mothers
Go for Broke/Japanese American War Veterans
Latino Congressional Medal of Honor Society
Military Order of the Purple Heart
Monte Vista Village
Pearl Harbors Survivor Association
POWS Association
Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front Park
SOCAL Nurses
American Legion
The Tuskegee Airmen
Office of the Mayor of San Diego
Office of the Mayor of Chula Vista
American WWII War Orphans Network
WWII War Brides Association
United Veterans Council of San Diego
Port of San Diego
Veterans Holiday Celebration
Digital Clubhouse Network/Stories of Service
San Diego Historical Society
Veterans of Foreign Wars
Waterford Terrace
USS Midway Museum
History San Jose
City Club of San Diego
Girl Scouts
Sea Cadets
High Tech Media Arts Middle School
La Jolla Country Day School
Office of US Congressman Bob Filner

San Diego was chosen to be the first city in America to be part of a national network of more than 200 cities across the country that are being invited to participate in the Spirit of ’45 initiative by issuing proclamations and organizing commemorative events on August 14 this year to pay tribute to the legacy of service of the men and women of the WWII generation.

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders became the first mayor in America to come to officially endorse the Spirit of ’45 campaign with both a personal letter of support and a proclamation.

The kick off program was by emceed byGeorge Mitrovich, president and founder of theCity Club of San Diego. George will be recruiting a blue ribbon senior advisory council to help guide the Spirit of ’45 initiative in San Diego during the coming year.

The afternoon event began with a presentation of the colors by the Eagle Young Marines andPearl Harbor Survivor Stu Hedley who led the pledge of allegiance and gave the invocation, followed by the national anthem sung by country-western singer Amy Scruggs.

Spirit of ’45 National Supervisor Warren Hegg presented an overview of the goals and objectives of the Spirit of ’45 program and outlined the game plan for raising public awareness about this historic initiative, before introducing a video from Congressman Bob Filner announcing a House Bill supporting a permanent national day of remembrance to honor the legacy of America’s WWII generation.

Representatives from several Keep the Spirit of ’45 Alive National Partner Organizations expressed their support for the campaign during the afternoon program.

Bob Prath from AARP explained how his organization would be helping to promote awareness about the Keep the Spirit of ’45 Alive campaign on its Create the Good website, a resource dedicated to promoting community service and volunteerism.

Mike Keiger of Brookdale Senior Living, read a letter of support from Brookdale CEO Bill Sheriff.

All of the 72 senior living communities in Brookdale’s Western Division are organizing public events during the month of February to help begin rolling out the national campaign across the country.

Kevin Scofield, President of U-Haul San Diego, thanked the attendees, and expressed his company’s commitment to the campaign. U-Haul was founded in 1945 by Sam Shoen a WWII Navy vet, and has a long tradition of supporting veterans. U-Haul provided all the signage for the kick off event and is a national sponsor of Stories of Service, as well as both the Memorial Day Parade in Washington, DC and the Nation’s Veterans Day Parade in New York City.

Noting that AMVETS, was “a child of the Spirit of ’45″ having been started by a group of WWII veterans immediately after the way ended, John Byrum, Commander of AMVETS Department of California, called on all veterans service organizations to come together in common cause to make the national campaign a success. “We are proud to be able to ‘saddle up’ with Hugh O’Brian who we had the honor of presenting with the Silver Helmet Award for his outstanding many years of service community.” AMVETS Service Foundation of California has been a long time supporter of Stories of Service, which originated the Spirit of ’45 initiative.

Roger Connor spoke on behalf of the American World War II Orphans Network (AWON), which represents the more than 185,000 men and women whose fathers lost their lives during World War II.
AWON will be helping promote awareness of Keep the Spirit of ’45 Alive throughout its membership during the coming year.

Robert Pence and two of the founding members of the Association of World War II War Brides expressed their support for the national Spirit of ’45 campaign. The WWII War Brides have participated in Spirit of ’45 commemorative events in Silicon Valley for the past three years, and were “present at the creation” when the Spirit of ’45 idea was originated during a one-day symposium held on the historic Queen Mary on August 14, 2008, that was sponsored by the Digital Clubhouse Network’s Stories of Service program.

Following these brief remarks from our Partners, a number of San Diego leaders came forward to express their support for the campaign, including the Honorable Michael B. Bixler, Commissioner of the Port of San DiegoJack Ensch, Director of Military Affairs of the San Diego Padres, and the Honorable Leon Williams, former member of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, who spoke eloquently about how fitting it was that the Spirit of ’45 National Call to Service was taking place on Martin Luther King Day.

Several elected officials joined Mayor Sanders and Congressman Filner in expressing their support for the Spirit of ’45 campaign.

Mary Salas, chair of the California Assembly Committee on Veterans Affairs, spoke eloquently to the audience about how the Spirit of ’45 was expressed in the GI Bill and America’s ongoing commitment to its veterans of all eras. Assemblywoman Salas will be helping to champion Spirit of ’45 at the State level.

Assemblywoman Salas was followed by the Honorable Greg Cox, Member of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, whose District includes the Harbor Park which will be the venue for a series of ongoing Spirit of ’45 activities during the coming months. Supervisor Cox pledged to help promote awareness of the Spirit of ’45 campaign and encourage his fellow supervisors throughout the country to take part in this historic national initiative.

Supervisor Cox was joined at the podium by his wife, the Honorable Cheryl Cox, Mayor of Chula Vista, whose father is a WWII Navy veteran. A press conference was held at the California Veterans Home in Chula Vista on August 14, 2009, in response to the initial announcement of the Spirit of ’45 initiative that took place in New York City’s Times Square earlier that day. Mayor Cox will be sending a personal invitation to participate in the Spirit of ’45 national campaign to her fellow members of the Cities of Service network that was initiated last year by NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Elizabeth Cox then joined her parents to officially welcome Hugh O’Brian to San Diego for the day’s event. Ms. Cox is an alumna of Hugh O’Brian Youth (HOBY), and later worked for HOBY as both a volunteer and staffer.

The highlight of the afternoon was a “Conversation With History” as George Mitrovich led a group interview with Hugh, Edith and Sports Broadcast Hall of Famer Jerry Coleman, who was a highly decorated Marine fighter pilot during WWII and the Korean War before becoming the “Voice of the San Diego Padres.” The audience listened with rapt attention as the trio shared their personal first hand memories of growing up during the Great Depression, serving in uniform and on the home front during WWII, and what they remember about the day the war ended.

Following this informative and entertaining segment, San Diego Spirit of ’45 Coordinator Linda Laurie took the stage to call on the youth groups in attendance to commit themselves to a Semester of Service by helping seniors prepare their first hand reflections of August 14, 1945 so that they can be archived on the Spirit of ’45 web site. Linda volunteered to organize the January 18 event, building on the successful first National Call to Service that she was instrumental in producing on the Midway last year as part of President Obama’s pre-Inauguration National Day of Service.

Linda was joined on stage by Zoe Randall and a group of students from High Tech Middle School, who urged other schools and youth groups to help them lead their community as a model that can inspire other communities to take part in the Spirit of ’45 national campaign during the coming months.

Zoe and her students then presented Scott McGaugh of the USS Midway Museum with a framed newspaper of the day from March 1945 which had an article describing the christening of the USS Midway.

The formal program concluded with remarks by California Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher. As the first combat veteran of the post 9/11 generation to serve in the California State Legislature, Assemblyman Fletcher has a deep appreciation of the sacrifices of those who are called on to risk their lives in service to our country, and was the ideal choice to help bring together the “Greatest” and the “Latest” generations at our national kick off event.

Read about Keep the Spirit of ’45 Alive on Nathan Fletcher’s website.

Nathan thanked the students for their commitment to service and spoke eloquently about the importance of making the Spirit of ’45 an inspiration to a renewed sense of community and civic engagement in America at a time when our country once again faces so many historic challenges. As the closing act of the program and to officially kick off the national campaign, Nathan presented the students with commemorative pins for being the first in their community – and the country – to pledge themselves to keeping the Spirit of ’45 alive!

The afternoon program ended with a group photo of a cross section of attendees in front of the historic Stars and Stripes that flew over the USS Missouri on the day that the peace accords were signed in Tokyo Bay.

Following the formal program, seniors and students had a time to talk to one another about war time experiences.


“What a great thing you did putting this event together. We (all the AARP volunteers) are impressed with your dedication to the objective of ‘SPIRIT OF ’45′.” - Hoagy Carmichael

“The girls felt privileged to be there. Many of them are young and did not really understand that there is a reason for war. They wanted to hear stories from the WWII veterans so that they could understand. They are looking forward to more talks with the veterans so that they can say they know what happened because the veterans told them.” - Irene Barajas, Girl Scout troop leader,

“You can see the emotion that comes out of them. Real people went through this.”

“Face to face you get to see what they did instead of reading it in a book.” - Young Sea Cadets

“What an amazing event! Our residents were so thankful and had a great time. Mike and I stayed until they kicked us out as the museum was closing… it was so much fun.” - Ken Claire, Regional Director, Brookdale Assisted Living

“I was extremely impressed with the total organization of the day. Everyone who works on the ship was also impressed. I really like that you are working to save the memory of that time.”

Wallace “Griff” Griffin, Midway Docent

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