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Spirit of ‘45 event moves to Bonita Springs

—Beach Deacon/WWII vet to speak—

July 25, 2012
By BOB PETCHER, , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Officials from an event commemorating World War II veterans have announced festivities have been moved off Fort Myers Beach to Bonita Springs this year.

The "Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive" tribute will take place at The Colony Golf & Country Club at 4101 Pelican Colony Blvd. on Aug. 12, from 4:15 to 7:15 p.m.

Two years ago, the United States Congress unanimously agreed that a national "Spirit of '45 Day" be observed on the second Sunday in every August, coinciding with the anniversary of August 14, 1945, the day President Truman announced the end of World War II.

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World War II veterans will be honored again on the second Sunday in August. The Honor Guard and other ceremony invitees will hold the event at The Colony Golf & Country Club at 4101 Pelican Colony Blvd.

"The mission of Spirit of '45 is to bridge the gap between the generations," said Eryka Aptaker, the Lee County chairperson of Spirit of '45. "Not only does it pay tribute to the World War II veterans, but we are trying to reach out to the youth of today, so that the memory of the World War II generation doesn't die. We want them to understand how great this generation was and what they did for this country."

Aptaker and Bonita Springs American Legion Post 303 Commander Adam Prentki III will share master of ceremony honors. Prentki is expected to read the opening speech, while Aptaker will handle the Spirit of '45 speech. Both individuals are co-planning the event and will take turns announcing guest speakers.

Other than the two speeches, the agenda for the ceremony includes marching of the Color Guard; Pledge of Allegiance; National Anthem; Opening Prayer; guest speakers; Laying of the Wreath; Story of Poppies; Amazing Grace performed by a bagpiper; Honor Guard's 21-Gun Salute; Taps; and a Closing Speech. Bonita Mayor Ben Nelson will read the event's proclamation.

Three WWII vets will make speeches at the tribute. Beach resident Charles "Scoop" Kiesel, a Deacon at Church by the Ascension, will speak along with another WWII vet from Southwest Florida and Hallandale Beach Florida.

The Spirit of '45 event is free for WWII vets and their spouses. The cost for attendees is $20 per person. Tickets will need to be reserved or purchased in advance. Since it is being held at a country club, pre-registration is vital to get through the gate.

For more information, contact Aptaker at 1-800-527-5395 (ext. 852).

"All World War II veterans are welcome. Come and pay tribute to the greatest generation of our World War II veterans," she said. "Taps will be played across the nation that day."

According to the website,, "Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive" is a non-profit, non-partisan initiative to preserve the legacy of the men and women of the Greatest Generation so that their example of courage, self-sacrifice, "can-do" attitude and commitment to community can help inspire a renewal of national unity in America at a time when our country once again must come together to meet historic challenges."

Its goal and initiative is "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."

The 2012 national event is celebrating its 67th year.



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