News :: VITAS Innovative Hospice Care Honors America’s ‘Greatest Generation’ by Keeping the Spirit of ’45 Alive!

November 28, 2011

November is National Hospice/Palliative Care Month.  This year’s theme -”Preserving a legacy…treasuring memories” -reminds us that every person is a unique individual with a lifetime of experiences, relationships and gifts to share.  We are very proud therefore to take this opportunity to thank VITAS Innovative Hospice Care, the nation’s leading provider of end-of-life care,  for its ongoing support as a Spirit of ’45 National Legacy Sponsoring Partner.

WWII veteran W.D. Little was proud to be honored for his service and to know that every year he and his fellow "ordinary heroes" will always be remembered on National Spirit of '45 Day.

Spirit of ’45 is one of the many ways that VITAS is demonstrating its continued commitment to honor veterans of all eras during the final chapters of their lives. One out of every four persons who passes away each year is a veteran.  As the leader of the U.S. hospice movement for more than 33 years, VITAS and its team of compassionate caregivers work hard to ensure that veterans receive the support and high-quality care they deserve.  VITAS’ dedication to our nation’s veterans is unrivaled.  The company’s work includes partnering with the Honor Flight Network to sponsor and accompany veterans to visit the nation’s war memorials in Washington, D.C., as well as partnering with the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s (NHPCO) “We Honor Veterans” campaign, developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  For its tireless efforts, VITAS has received numerous awards and accolades, including Dorland’s Health’s prestigious Silver Crown Award.

Dr. Roscoe Brown, legendary Tuskegee Airmen with VITAS Veterans liaison at the Airmen’s national convention held in Washington, DC in early August. Dr. Brown is a Spirit of ’45 national spokesman. Larry has organized dozens of Spirit of ’45 events in the Atlanta, GA area.

VITAS supports’s the Spirit of ’45 national public awareness effort and is playing a key role in “bringing the Spirit” to senior living communities, state veterans homes and other locations across the country.

This year was extraordinary for the “Spirit of “45,” as more remembrance events than ever were organized across the country honoring our mission to remember “America’s greatest generation.”

In May, VITAS sponsored the Spirit of ’45 entry in the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C.   Our section was comprised of hundreds of youth who honored the Gold Stars of WWII by carrying poster sized photographs of them up Constitution Avenue to the National WWII Memorial.

In the month of August, VITAS staff led the way by helping to organize “Spirit of ’45″ remembrance events from coast to coast.

From baseball games to wreath-laying ceremonies, VITAS’ programs generously dedicated their time and resources to recognize local veterans and helped secure state and municipal proclamations supporting Spirit of ’45 Day in communities across America.

Spirit of '45 youth volunteers march in front of the National Archives during the 2011 Memorial Day Parade. VITAS hosted a Spirit of ’45 reception during the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) to thank senior living communities that have held “Spirit of “45 Day” observances for their residents. Hundreds of ALFA members hosted open houses, inviting the public in to say “Thank you!” to members of the WWII generation on the anniversary of their “greatest day” - the day President Truman announced that the war was over and the world was at last at peace.

VITAS helped the Florida Marlins host WWII veterans on Spirit of ’45 Day this year. The Marlins are already planning a major observance for Spirit of ’45 Day 2012 in their new baseball stadium.

Major League Baseball teams have joined the Spirit of ’45 Day initiative to remind the public of the important role they played to keep up morale during WWII.   VITAS representatives from Los Angeles, San Diego, Cincinnati, Florida and Atlanta escorted local veterans along with VITAS veteran patients and their families to enjoy a baseball game at the ballpark.  VITAS volunteers also helped distribute “Spirit of ’45” rack cards at the ballparks that showcased some of baseball’s greatest players and former veterans such as Jackie Robinson and Joe DiMaggio.

In addition to supporting the Major League Baseball teams,  VITAS programs coordinated dozens of celebrations, recognition ceremonies and memorials for “Spirit of ’45 Day.”

  • Atlanta sponsored 16 “Keep the Spirit of ’45” events within retirement communities, nursing homes and assisted living organizations.
  • More than 200 Veterans and their caregivers enjoyed a special recognition event at the Sunrise Senior Center in Broward County, Florida.
  • Cincinnati partnered with Honor Flights to provide a USO-style dance and luncheon at Jim and Jack’s Restaurant.
  • Fort Worth provided an event at the Vintage Flying Museum that included a presentation by the Tuskegee Airmen.
  • Milwaukee sponsored three events: one at the Milwaukee Veterans Administration, a senior citizens picnic and a South Milwaukee Senior Center event.
  • New Jersey North partnered with the VA New Jersey Health Care System to provide a celebration at the Lyons Campus, complete with music and refreshments.
  • Northern Virginia provided a Veterans event at a restaurant in Fairfax.
  • Palm Beach served as host to an event at Whitehall Nursing Home for Veterans.
  • Philadelphia co-sponsored a re-dedication of the WWII Memorial at the 30thStreet Station and sponsored six recognition events at assisted-living communities.
  • Waterbury, Connecticut sponsored a celebration at the Oakville VFW.
  • San Francisco partnered with an assisted living community in Fremont to host a “Spirit of ’45 Day” for its residents.
  • Long Beach, California, served as host to an event organized by Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske’s office at the El Dorado Senior Center.
  • VITAS programs in Columbus, Ohio, San Antonio, Texas, and San Diego also sponsored “Spirit of ’45” events.
VITAS supported numerous public events like the 2-day “Spirit of ’45 Weekend” at San Jose’s History Park which drew more than 3000 people on August 13-14 this year. VITAS staff helped senior living communities create a Wall of Honor with photos of their WWII generation residents. Photos are now being collected to create Wall of Honor murals in every state that will be displayed next year on National Spirit of ’45 Day. VITAS helped reach out to state and municipal governments to request proclamations supporting National Spirit of ’45 Day.

In November, VITAS staff helped organize Spirit of ’45 entries in their local Veterans Day Parade in cities throughout America, following the example of the nation’s largest Veterans Day Parade in New York  which has a Spirit of ’45 entry every year.

VITAS’ website features a special section titled, “You can Help Keep the Spirit of ’45 Alive” with tips about how to participate in the campaign.  Click here now to learn more.

Spirit of '45 float appears each year in the Nation's Veterans Day Parade in New York City.

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