NAPLES, Fla - World War II Veterans are dying at a pace of one thousand every day, but this weekend communities across the country will make sure their memories and stories live on forever.
In Naples, the 3rd annual Spirit of '45 Celebration will kick of Friday morning with a "Sentimental Journey" at the Naples Botanical Garden.
Earl and Thelma Hodges are honorary co-chairs of this years celebration. "I'm extremely honored," says Earl Hodges. "And being a veteran of two wars I certainly appreciate the opportunity to keep the young people aware of what has happened in our history and how important it is for the young people to appreciate the veterans for serving and who have served in several wars."
As a veteran of World War II and the Korean War, Hodges says passing along his stories, memories and knowledge to younger generations is a must.
"I spoke at Hodges University the other day and I mentioned Alvin C.York. He was the most decorated hero of WWI and captured over 240 German prisoners single handedly," says Hodges. "So, you mention Sgt. Alvin C.York to most young people and they say who? That's unfortunate because that's what this country is all about, is freedom."
"When we look back and learn about all the history, it's really important to know that those guys helped save our country and we always look back at them as heroes and honor them," says 15 year old Hunter McDaniel of Naples Boy Scout Troop 2.
Saturday morning 140 WWII veterans will gather at the Hilton in Naples and the Naples Boy Scouts will escort the Veterans to their tables. It's one way they're able to connect the two generations and "Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive."
"The whole weekend is about reaching the young people and implanting something in their minds that says hey be nice to those veterans because that's the reason we're free," says Hodges.
Friday, August 10: "Sentimental Journey" from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. At the Naples Botanical Garden. Bring lawn chairs or blankets for seating. Free admission for veterans.
Saturday, August 11: "The Greatest Generation" breakfast at the Hilton in Naples from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. RSVP is required.
Sunday, August 12: "Taps Across America" begins at 7 p.m. at Lowdermilk Park. All are welcome and should bring lawn chairs or blankets for seating.
For more information call Lois Bolin at 239-777-2281