Learn more about how to honor the Greatest Generation and how you can observe the day of “the kiss seen ’round the world.”
Each year, the national nonprofit grassroots “Keep the Spirit of ’45 Alive!” campaign honors the Greatest Generation by observing National Spirit of ’45 Day on the second Sunday of August. The day coincides with the day President Harry S. Truman announced that WWII had ended — August 14, 1945.
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Last year, the campaign organized the Times Square Kiss Project as a tribute to the 70th anniversary of the iconic “Times Square Kiss” that occurred in New York City when the war ended.
To be a part of the Times Square Kiss Project, send your WWII couple photos to the Keep the Spirit of ’45 Alive organization. Your images will then become a mosaic of the iconic photo, which will be displayed in Times Square on August 14. WWII Navy veterans Ray and Ellie Williams of Blairsville, Georgia, will celebrate the anniversary by re-enacting the kiss on behalf of their generation that day.
Remember that photos should:
Note: It is best to scan an “8×10” photo if possible, as photos that are any smaller will be grainy when scanned.
Elinor Otto, an original Rosie the Riveter, built airplanes from 1942-2014 until the Boeing plant where she worked shut down. She has been honored for her contributions to the military with the Lillian K. Keil award from the American Veterans Center, and now works to create awareness about the Spirit of ’45 campaign.
Otto tells us more about her work in an interview below:
A Place for Mom (APFM): Why have you partnered with the Spirit of ’45 organization and what is your role as national spokeswoman?
Elinor Otto: I was “discovered” by the Spirit of ’45 group a couple of years ago, who shared my story with media and led to a lot of interviews with newspapers and TV. The Spirit of ’45 group was responsible for Congress unanimously voting in 2010 for a national day for my generation which is observed every year now in August. My role is to help make people aware of what we women contributed during WWII, especially those of us who went into the factories when the men went off to war. This year is very important since it is the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII in August 1945, and we want to make sure that everyone in America is aware of this. Now that I am no longer working, being able to be part of the Spirit of ’45 70th Anniversary Commemoration national campaign gives my life a real purpose as I feel I am contributing to the future wellbeing of our country, by reminding people of how we were able to overcome difficulties by pulling together. I also hope that my example can help inspire others in some way, especially young women.
When you were on the Ellen show, she asked you what you wanted to do when you retire, and you replied, “I want to take care of old people.” Now that you’re retired, what are your plans to take care of old people?
I have a sister who was also a Rosie during the war. Unfortunately, she has been suffering from dementia for a number of years. She is younger than me, so it is especially sad to see her in this situation. It has also made me much more aware of how older people often don’t receive the quality of care that they need and deserve at this time in their lives. Now that I am finally retired and getting some public attention, I would like to devote myself to raise awareness about this issue. Older people have paid their dues, and deserve to have respect, despite their physical or mental problems.
What needs to be changed in our society about how we care for seniors?
This is a big challenge, as you know, and I am certainly not an expert other than being someone in her nineties who has personal firsthand experience with how older women are treated. I also don’t think of myself as very typical of my generation or my age group, as I have been more fortunate that so many others in being able to continue to work maintain my independent life style, and be healthy.
I think the number one issue is for people to have patience and love for older people who have contributed so much to this country. It has been my experience when meeting younger people, especially little ones, that want to show respect to older people because it makes them feel better about themselves to help someone who needs their energy and excitement about the future. This is one of the best parts of what I’m doing now, is getting out to talk with kids and answer their questions about what it was like so long ago!
Otto adds that she is working to do just that, by mobilizing the Girl Scouts to go out to spend time with WWII seniors and veterans in August, especially with senior women of her generation.
You can also pay tribute to these WWII veterans on our Wall of Honor, which highlights the men and women who have played a critical role in our nation’s history. Celebrate a loved one that has served in the U.S. military by sharing a treasured photo and story about their time serving the military and their life.
How do you honor a loved one and keep the Spirit of ’45 alive? Share your story with us in the comments below.