PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Every year on the second Sunday in the month of August, the country observes “Spirit of ’45 Day” just ahead of the anniversary of the end of World War II.
In Providence on Sunday, dozens gathered at the Rhode Island World War II Memorial on South Main Street, just ahead of Victory Day, a state holiday.
“We mark the end of the Second World War today by honoring these great heroes and reminding ourselves that they fought for the freedom that we enjoy today, something we should never take for granted,” Congressman David Cicilline said at Sunday’s event.
“So this is an occasion just to say thank you for the heroism and determination and commitment of an extraordinary generation of men and women who changed the course of the world,” he said.
Cicilline took the opportunity to tie Sunday’s event with the events that unfolded in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday. He said it’s an interesting time in America right now, where both the past and present collide.
“It’s just a reminder that the best way we can honor the great American heroes, the veterans who fought and gave their lives, is to still value what they fought for,” said Cicilline.
Seventy-two years ago, Life magazine published an iconic photo of a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square, marking the end of the war. The sailor, a Middletown resident named George Mendonsa, is now 94 years old.
The National World War II Museum estimates fewer than 3,000 Rhode Island veterans who served in the war are still alive, down from 8,000 in 2010 and 26,000 in 2000.