Keeping the Spirit of '45 Alive, One Story at a Time

By Hegg, Warren | Aging Today, September/October 2009 | Go to article overview

Keeping the Spirit of '45 Alive, One Story at a Time


Hegg, Warren, Aging Today


Edith Shain remembers very clearly what she was doing on August 14, 1945: She was in Times Square kissing a man in uniform.

Shain was the young nurse being kissed by an exuberant sailor in the famous photograph taken on the day World War II ended - the day that the Greatest Generation began the daunting task of rebuilding its shattered world.

Now, at age 91, Shain wants to help keep the memory of that historic day alive. She is inviting older adults who remember the day to share their firsthand memories with her as part of the Spirit of '45 Project, a national initiative to inspire a renewed sense of national unity and community. The oneyear project will archive these stories on its website and share them at public events commemorating the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II. These events will take place in cities nationwide and in New York's Times Square in August 2010.

As part of its agenda, the project is urging Congress to officially designate the second Sunday in August as an annual national day of remembrance honoring the legacy of the WWII generation.

A key goal of the year-long initiative is to involve youth. Young people are being asked to promote the Spirit of '45 Project at their schools and in their communities, and to act as "digital docents" by helping elders to upload their stories and photos to the Spirit of '45 website www.Spiritof45.org). Youth are also encouraged to suggest website enhancements that will help program participants to collaborate with each other during the campaign.

The Spirit of '45 Project is part of Stories of Service, an intergenerational digital storytelling initiative begun in 1998 by the nonprofit Digital Clubhouse Network (DCN). The DCN, an idea originally sparked and funded by NASA to develop innovative ways of using technology to build a better community, has been commended by the Smithsonian Institution for "using the power of information technology to effect positive educational, economic and political change in society. …

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