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Preserving the Spirit of the Greatest Generation

WWII vets are becoming rarer and rarer; we must honor them while we can, and take their legacy with us. Credit: AARP.

Current events suggest that Americans are in danger of forgetting some of the lessons learned from the generation which faced the Great Depression and the Second World War.

The National Spirit of ‘45 Day offers the country a reminder that the legacy of the Greatest Generation is applicable to today.  

The day is Sunday, August 11th

Passed by Congressional Action in August 2010, the second Sunday of August commemorates the August 14, 1945 announcement by President Harry Truman that World War II was over.


The Spirit of ’45

In a 2010 article entitled “The Greatest Generation,” – a semantic tip of the hat to Tom Brokaw’s highly acclaimed 1998 book, The Greatest Generation – Richard Sousa, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, highlighted these individuals.

He pointed out that from the late 1920s through 1946 Americans endured the nation’s greatest economic disaster, that 16 million men and women fought and won in the Pacific and Europe, and that after the war they came home and went back to work.

“They built homes and raised families …. They put a man on the moon!  They were carpenters, teachers, welders, Fuller Brush men,” wrote Sousa.

“But, most important, they wove the fabric that made the United States great. They gave their children safe and secure homes; they exemplified a solid work ethic and belief in America; they instilled in their children the value of education.”

The hard earned lessons from that great generation are promoted by the National Spirit of ‘45 Day.

That said, some believe these positive values are in danger of being forgotten.


Meet a Pebble

One of the worried is Eryka Aptaker.

“I am passionate about these World War II veterans and what they represent,” she told me from her home in Cape Coral, Florida during a telephone conversation.

“We owe a world of debt to them, to that generation; it is important to educate today’s youths about that generation’s positive values.”

Since 2011, Ms. Aptaker has worked full-time to ensure that the legacy of the Greatest Generation endures.

“We must not forget their lessons of discipline, sacrifice and their can-do attitude,” she emphasized, “and National Spirit of ‘45 Day is crucial to this.”

To reinforce the message, she has served for nine years as the Lee County chairperson in support of the nationwide campaign to keep the Spirit of ‘45 alive.

“The last World War II veterans will soon pass, and we risk losing the past, and it is important to educate today’s youth about those lessons,” she continued.

To do this, Ms. Aptaker has taken her message of remembering the past well outside of Lee County, Florida and across the country.

“Receiving calls last year from World War II veterans new to the Spirit of ‘45, left me with the feeling that I still hadn’t gotten the knowledge of this initiative out far enough,” she wrote in a July 19th editorial in the Cape Coral Daily Breeze.

“I have a belief that ‘it only takes a tiny pebble to create a huge ripple.’ I want to be that pebble.”

A World War II veteran meets and talks to boy scouts. Credit: PBS.

A Request for Assistance

She concluded our conversation by saying the legacy of the Americans who lived through the Great Depression, served this country during the Second World War and then laid the foundations for what the nation is today deserve more than just a tip of the hat – it needs attention.

As she wrote in her editorial:

“I am reaching out to ask for help to get the word out. Please don’t make this another year where family members tell me that they wish they would have heard about this while their World War II family member was still alive. It happens too often and their stories need to be heard and preserved; their legacy needs to live on.”

National Spirit of ‘45 Day needs all the pebbles it can get to create an avalanche of support for the Greatest Generation’s positive values of discipline, hard work, self-reliance and education.

For more information about National Spirit of `45 Day, visit


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