HOLLYWOOD—Entertainment industry giants Kate Linder, Margaret O’Brien, Rhonda Fleming and Carol Channing were on hand to greet and thank WWII Veterans in Los Angeles last month in true Hollywood Canteen style as thousands across the nation gathered in over 200 cities to Keep the Spirit of ”˜45 Alive! The grassroots campaign was created to promote a national day of remembrance for the greatest generation. Also in attendance were Kelly Stewart on behalf of her father, WWII Veteran and famed movie star Jimmy Stewart and actress and USO performer Kate Linder of “The Young and the Restless,” who had been one of the artists to attend the first event launch announcing the plans for this event and the resolution going through Congress at the time. Two very special guests were Bea Cohen, who at 101 shared memories of the WWII experience and that very special day in 1945, and WWII Veteran Harry Kullijian, who reiterated that, “You’ve all heard that there were no atheists in fox holes, but there also weren’t any skin colors, religions or political parties. You knew you were Americans and that was all you needed to know.”

Ms. O’Brien remarked, “For countless reasons, all of America shall forever be indebted to the services provided by our armed forces and those on the home front during the most turbulent time in history. In memory of their gallant efforts that forever changed our world and our nation, I am working to help with the efforts of securing a national day of remembrance. I wish all of you who served in the Spirit of ”˜45 all of God’s blessings. Much love always!”

Ms. Fleming added, “Having had the tremendous opportunity during World War II of touring, entertaining and visiting with our troops in the United States and abroad who served our great country, it gives me immense pleasure and heartfelt gratitude to know that on the 65th Anniversary of the end of the war they will be forever remembered for their sacrifice and commitment to America and to the American people with a national day of remembrance. I’m honored to pay tribute to their legacy and I salute the men and women who have served and continue to serve our great country in keeping the ‘Spirit of ”˜45’ alive. May God bless our United States of America!”

Ms. Channing wrapped the event with her husband, Harry. “Many others like him went to war so that their children could have liberty to study math, philosophy, geography, science, architecture, commerce and agriculture in order that future generations could study painting, poetry, dance, and music that could then enhance and improve upon the knowledge their fathers had previously gained. Armed with these tools, they can reach beyond even their grand fathers dreams for them. The veterans of WWII achieved the goal of protecting these rights for today’s and future generations and should always be remembered for doing so.”

There was also a special message from Ernest Borgnine, read by organizer Warren Hegg, that said, “I want to send my enthusiastic best wishes to everyone involved with Spirit of ”˜45 Day I was proud to have worked with Edith Shain who was on the receiving end of the “kiss seen round the world” at the end of World War II. She was a wonderful lady and worked tirelessly to make sure America remembers the men and women who fought for America in WWII. Thanks for keeping her dream of a national day of remembrance for our generation alive.”

A Congressional Resolution endorsing the idea of a “National Spirit of ’45 Day” passed the House of Representatives July 26, and passed the Senate on August 5. For more information about “Keep the Spirit of ’45 Alive!” visitSpiritof45.com.

All Photographs Courtesy: Tanya Pham Photography

The following are pictured:

1) Margaret O’Brien, Carol Channing and Rhonda Fleming

2) Kelly Stewart on behalf of her father Jimmy Stewart,

3) Veterans Class of 1945

4) Group 2: Left to right front row: Professional swing dancers Jacob Giron, Minn Vo and Jonathan Redavid. Left to right back row: Husband of Carol Channel and World War II Veteran Harry Kullijian; husband of Rhonda Flemming and World War II Veteran Darol Wayne Carlson; actress Rhonda Flemming; actress Carol Channing, 100-year old World War II Veteran Bea Cohen; Lt. Commander Ernest Cowell, U. S. Navy, Ret.; actress Kate Linder; and actress Margaret O’Brien.


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