World War II was the deadliest and most significant event of the 20th century, and subsequent commemorations of the war. By the war’s end, 50 nations were involved in the conflict. At least 60 million people, and possibly as many as 80 million, died as a result of the war. As many as 25 million died in combat or in prisoner-of-war camps.
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, with great loss of men and material, drew the United States into the conflict on two fronts — the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans:
The European Theatre was involved in planning and preparations for the D-Day invasion of German-occupied Europe at Normandy, the massive Allied operation directed by General Dwight D. Eisenhower; more than half of the casualties of the 1st day of the Normandy invasion were American.
The Pacific Theater was defined by the Allied powers and officially came into existence on March 30, 1942, when US AdmiralChester Nimitz was appointed Supreme Allied Commander and U.S. GeneralDouglas MacArthur was commander of the South West Pacific Allied forces.
America owes these amazing men and women of the World War II generation everlasting thanks. WE WILL NEVER FORGET THEM.
National Response ~ 21st Century — KEEP THE SPIRIT OF ’45 ALIVE
In 2010,Congress passed legislation to commemorate the second Sunday of August as “Spirit of ’45 Day” to honor and remember the contributions, values and legacy of the men and women of WWII who served our country both in battle abroad and at home.
State of Oregon Response ~ 21st Century
In 2013,Oregon passed legislation to do the same for the 152,000 plus Oregonians who contributed to war effort from our state and the thousands who made the ultimate sacrifice.
In 2015,the Oregon Spirit of ’45 organization was founded and a nonprofit initiated to plan and promote events in Oregon to honor what many regard as the “greatest generation.” U.S. Senator Ron Wyden submitted a Congressional Record 30 July 2015 on behalf of efforts of the Oregon Spirit of ’45. To preserve the legacy of the men and women of WWII so as to ‘Remember and Be Inspired,’ the 70th Anniversary of the end of WWII was commemorated Spirit of ’45 Week, August of 2015, as proclaimed by the Governor of the state of Oregon, Kate Brown. Oregon Spirit of ’45 organized a first-class, six city, statewide musical concert tour with The Oregon Adjutant, the 234th Army Band … attended by thousands of citizens of Oregon.
On Veterans Day that November, the Oregon Spirit of ’45 sponsored high school students and JR ROTC cadets to march in Albany’s parade, the largest Veterans Day Parade west of the Mississippi. Youth marched with photographs of Oregonians who served in World War II and specifically honored 100-year-old World War II veteran Dean Powell. Powell, riding in a military vehicle amongst our youth, was a resounding success and covered by KOIN TV-6 and other news outlets.
In 2016,we sponsored a youth team to march in the National Memorial Day parade in Washington, DC to honor WWII Veterans in our nation’s capital. They represented our state leading hundreds of youth down Constitution Avenue along side the Spirit of ’45 float and carrying the Spirit of ’45 signage and poster photographs of Pearl Harbor veterans in honor of the those lost 75 years ago in Hawaii this December 7th.
In 2017, we celebrate Airpower year with the 75th Anniversary of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders. On April 18, the official anniversary, we testified before the Oregon Senate Committee on Veterans. We highlighted our activities since the legislation they enacted the spring of 2013 when we became the first state in the nation to create a permanent Oregon Spirit of ’45 day. We enlisted their support to spread the word across the state to:
1) ATTEND Spirit of ’45 day at Willamette National Cemetery, August 13, with Jonna Doolittle Hoppes, granddaughter of aviation pioneer Jimmy Doolittle; and
2) SUBMIT WWII hero photos to build the Oregon Wall of Honor and enhance the national Wall of Honor to be unveiled in Washington DC August 2020.
For 2020, our 5 year vision through dozens of 75th Anniversaries continues ceremonial and parade activities across the state so that the legacy of the World War II generation is remembered and inspires generations to come. We will continue to raise funds to increase participation to support the Wall of Honor, Faces of Heroes and parade posters that engage youth teams to ‘REMEMBER AND BE INSPIRED.’
As Oregon best prepares for the 75th Commemoration of the end of WWII, Oregon Spirit of ’45 will:
Partner on a state level to honor the 152,000 Oregonians who served; e.g., Willamette National Cemetery, the Daughters of the American Revolution and Dignity Memorial.
Collaborate on a national level to honor the 16.1 million who served e.g., National Spirit of ’45 Coalition, ‘Friends of the National World War II Memorial and National Parks.
Liaison on an International level to honor the nearly 100,000 fallen who rest off-shore; e.g., European cemetery sites of the American Battle Monuments Commission.