10th annual Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive set Aug. 11 at Veterans Memorial Park

The Combined Veterans of McHenry will host the 10th annual Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive festivities starting with swing music at 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 11, at Veterans Memorial Park, Pearl and Court streets, McHenry.

The event will include music by Bill's Little Big Band of Antioch, the Capt. James A. Lovell Federal Health Care U.S. Navy Color Guard, a rifle salute, the release of peace doves and a performance of Echo Taps, said Ron Bykowski, a lead coordinator of the event since its 2010 inception.

As the 74th anniversary of the end of World War II approaches - and with ever fewer members of the Greatest Generation still among the living - it's increasingly important to remember and honor the sacrifices of those who served both overseas and here at home, Bykowski said.

"The war wasn't won just by the people on the front lines," Bykowski said. "Right here in McHenry over what is now Corkscrew Pointe they made tents for the war effort.

"And when you think about it, yes, whoever served in the military served, but their spouses were serving too," he added.

Spouses of World War II era veterans will receive recognition and a special memento at this year's Spirit of '45 event. Korean War veterans and their spouses also are encouraged to attend and be recognized.

Bykowski said McHenry's celebration always has enjoyed generous attendance, even in its first year when it grew from plans for nationwide gatherings of buglers to perform Echo Taps.

The event frequently draws visitors from Milwaukee, Chicago, Aurora, Elgin and elsewhere. Its popularity may stem in part from nostalgia for an era when citizens rallied around a common cause, Bykowski said.

"Back in '45 there was a real sense of unity," he said. "We as a country not only rebuilt our economy but the economies of our enemies … there are so many to whom we are indebted. We just have to remember."

Everyone is welcome to attend the free event coordinated by VFW Post 4600, American Legion Post 491, the Polish Legion of American Veterans Post 188 and their auxiliaries. Food and refreshments will be available for purchase.

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Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive

What: 10th annual celebration honoring veterans and spouses from World War II and Korean War

Where: Veterans Memorial Park, Pearl and Court streets, McHenry

When: Music at 4 p.m., ceremony 5 p.m. Aug. 11

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