Spirit of '45 Day Express to Make Stop

The Military Order of the Purple Heart and Northwest Florida State College are proud to sponsor and welcome the Spirit of '45 Day Express as it rolls into Niceville on Tuesday, Aug. 19, for a visit in front of the college's Arena from 10 a.m. to noon.

Driven by Auston and Bonnie O'Neill, the Spirit of '45 Day Express is traveling throughout America to help publicize Spirit of '45 Day and promote interest in commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in 2015. The bus has traveled more than 25,000 miles since early February, visiting 40 states. This summer it will have several high-visibility stops culminating in an appearance in the New York City Veterans Day Parade on Nov. 11.

It is only fitting that Northwest Florida State College serve as host of the local visit. NWF was the first college in Florida to be designated a Purple Heart College by the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

In addition, NWF is home to a permanent exhibit in its state-of-the-art Arena commemorating the Doolittle Raiders, whose daring air raid on Japan after Pearl Harbor helped lift the nation's spirits and strengthen American resolve for the long fight ahead. The exhibit, located just steps from where the Spirit of '45 Day Express will be parked, will be open in conjunction with the event, and Doolittle Raiders expert Dr. Frank Goldstein will lead exhibit tours.

Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive! is a national nonprofit, nonpartisan grassroots initiative that is bringing organizations and individuals together to promote public awareness and participation in the observance of Spirit of '45 Day, the annual day that honors the men and women of the WWII generation on the second Sunday in August (aligning with the anniversary of the end of WWII on Aug. 14, 1945).

The organization now known as the Military Order of the Purple Heart of the USA Inc. was formed in 1932 for the protection and mutual interest of all combat wounded veterans and active-duty men and women who have received the decoration. Chartered by the Congress, the MOPH is unique among Veteran Service Organizations in that all its members were wounded in combat. For this sacrifice, they were awarded the Purple Heart Medal. With grants from the MOPH Service Foundation, the MOPH and its Ladies Auxiliary promote patriotism, fraternalism, and the preservation of America's military history. Most importantly, through veteran service, they provide comfort and assistance to all veterans and their families, especially those requiring claims assistance with the VA, those who are homeless, and those requiring employment assistance. Programs of the MOPH include VA volunteer service, first responder recognition, JROTC Leadership Award, scholarships, Americanism, Purple Heart Trail and Cities, welfare, and numerous community service programs, all with the objective of service to veterans and their families.

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