SWFL honors World War II vets at ‘Spirit of ’45 Day’ celebration

Hundreds gathered to honor World War II veterans for their service and sacrifice to our nation Sunday for Spirit of ’45 Day.

Veterans got the chance to reflect and celebrate their service at the Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort & Spa in Fort Myers where retired service members were treated to a meal and recognition.

Joseph Silvia, a 96-year-old WWII veteran said it was, “a great opportunity to have fun and meet nice people like you.”

Only about a half million WWII veterans are still alive out of the 16 million who fought, according to a museum dedicated to their service.

“Today on the Spirit of 45, it’s really important to recognize the veterans we still have with us,” said the Chairman of Lee County Commission, Cecil Pendergast.

Congress voted in 2010 to make the second Sunday in August the National Spirit of’45 Day, coinciding with the day President Truman announced World War II was over.

“We have a large population here in Southwest Florida of the Korean War, the Vietnam war, and also World War II, so it’s really nice to recognize them,” Pendergast said.

Veterans from other wars joined for the celebration.

“You can’t escape your past, it will always be a part of my life,” said Jim Hozier, a Vietnam veteran.

Many were grateful for the opportunity to spend time with servicemen and women from the earlier war.

“It’s great for us relatively younger guys to mingle with the guys who won World War II, because we all profit from their experiences,” he said.

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