Phil Hawkins, a Vietnam veteran and volunteer coordinator at the Idaho State Veterans Home, wants Treasure Valley residents to come together for a event, “Keep Alive the Spirit of ‘45,” at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 14 at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery, 10100 Horseshoe Bend Road in Boise.
The 45-minute ceremony is part of a national initiative to remember the end of World War II.
Hawkins is inviting veterans who served in that conflict to attend, but he’s also looking for those who served on the civilian front during the war, whether that was as a famous “Rosie the Riveter,” or in a munitions factory, in a ship yard, or in other ways. This is a chance for community members who served to share their stories and meet fellow veterans.
Hawkins, who will emcee the event, said fewer than 20 World War II-era veterans now live at the state home. Several are in their 90s. Along with Hawkins, two World War II veterans will speak. There will also be an opportunity for veteran attendees to share their stories.
“We have to remember the greatest generation that’s done so much for all of us,” said Hawkins. “This will be a great opportunity for us to recognize these guys.” In addition to his own service in Vietnam, Hawkins’ family is steeped in military service. His father, along with his uncles, served in World War II.
If you’re a veteran, or someone who served on the civilian front, contact Hawkins at 208-780-1700.
James Earp, director of the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery said the event, the sharing of stories, is meant to honor the sacrifices of veterans and those on the home front, but emphasizes the ceremony will not be one of mourning. “It’s a celebration,” said Earp, “a chance for veterans to speak.”
The cemetery staff is also inviting families to take pictures of World War II veterans in their families and submit them to be part of a future national display in Washington D.C. Several Idaho families have already submitted photos, said Earp. The cemetery office will scan the photos and send them on to Washington where they will be reprinted to form collages representing each state. If you would like to take part in the photo project, call the cemetery office for details at 208-780-1340.