National Spirit of '45 delegation visits Travelers Rest

TRAVELERS REST, S.C – A delegation from Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive, a nonprofit campaign that promotes the observance of National Spirit of '45 Day, made a stop in Travelers Rest over the weekend.

Inspired by the famous Times Square photo of a nurse being kissed by an unidentified sailor on the day the world learned that WWII was over, the Spirit of '45 observance serves to honor the wartime generation by restoring their spirit of community as well as their willingness to sacrifice for others.

At a breakfast event, hosted by Spirit of '45 Upstate and held Saturday morning at the Cafe at Williams Hardware, the national supervisor for Keep the Spirit of ’45 Alive, Warren Hegg, thanked local organizers for their efforts to recognize our “greatest generation.”

Hegg said the WWII generation saved the Western world and demonstrated the possibilities of a unified nation, adding that it is important to keep their legacy alive.

"What we owe this generation is that we remember them," he said.

Also representing the national Spirit of '45 campaign at the breakfast event was Auston O’Neill, official bugler of Spirit of ’45. O'neill and his wife, Bonnie, have launched a national tour, stopping in communities all over the U.S. to spread the word of the upcoming 70th anniversary of the end of WWII. Their route, the second stop of which was Travelers Rest, follows the same basic route that a Military Vehicles Preservation Association convoy will take in 2015.

A special guest at the breakfast was Gloria Bullard, of Winnsboro, S.C. Bullard is the “other nurse” in the iconic Times Square photo, the one standing under the Walgreens' sign. She spoke of what it was like to be standing in Times Square as news spread that WWII had come to end, making sure to add that she "knew it meant [her] fella would be home soon."

In the Upstate, the third annual Spirit of '45 celebration took place in 2013. The multi-day commemoration is organized by the Traveler Rest Historical Society and has grown to include not only the official ceremony at Reedy River Baptist Church, but a WWII vehicle and memorabilia display, recorded interviews of area residents who were alive when the war ended, and a swing dance and costume contest.

In October, the Historical Society received an Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History for its work in instituting the Upstate celebration.

Spirit of '45 Day is celebrated the second Sunday in August.

In attendance at Saturday's delegation visit were S.C. Sen. Mike Fair, S.C. Rep. Mike Burns, Travelers Rest Mayor Wayne McCall, Travelers Rest City Councilmembers Harvey Choplin and Brandy Amidon, author and Travelers Rest historian Mann Batson, Travelers Rest Historical Society co-presidents Ben and Earline Cunningham, and Greater Travelers Rest Chamber of Commerce board member Dot Bishop, among others.