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Drive sparks Spirit of '45Tell North Platte what you think
 
Photo by George Lauby
Auston O'Neill in his Bugles Across America uniform
Photo by George Lauby
Taps, in front of an historic railroad depot at the museum
Photo by George Lauby
A cap for Museum Director Jim Griffin.
Photo by George Lauby
The O'Neill's Spirit of '45 motor home

A uniformed figure stood sharp and alert Tuesday morning at the Lincoln County Historical Museum, playing Taps.

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Auston O’Neill played the solemn tune on his bugle, then observed a few moments of silence.

O’Neill is a member of Burgles Across America. He and wife Bonnie are traveling the country to drum up participation in the Spirit of ’45 -- an observance of the end of World War II, 69 years ago.

“I’m doing this for my Dad,” Auston said. “He served in New Guinea, and without the war effort in New Guinea, Australia would not be the Australia we know today.”

Auston O’Neill’s father and mother were married soon after WWII. His father died five years ago.

Auston and Bonnie believe the unity, shared sacrifice and service of those who served in WWII and returned to rebuild the country and raise families should be remembered. They are committed their lives to it.

In 2010, Congress unanimously established a national “Spirit of ’45 Day.”

The day will be observes on the second Sunday in August 2015. Celebrations will be held in every town, if the O’Neills have their way.

On the same day, buglers around the world will play Taps, beginning in the Philippines and finishing in Hawaii, where Auston will play at the grave of former Sen. Daniel Inouye, a WWII veteran and a spirited supporter of the Spirit of '45 Day.

An honorary convoy of vehicles on I-80 – part of the national highway system that President and WWII Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower built – will be part of the observance.

The Spirit of '45 Day will help preserve and honor the legacy of men and women of the WW II generation so their example will continue to inspire future generations. 

The O’Neills said it’s important to impress the magnitude of their effort, and spirit, on younger people, who will not know any WWII veterans in a few years.

In the O’Neill's home state of Virginia, each student of the Rocky Run Middle School near Alexandria participates in a parade, carrying a large photograph from WWII. The O’Neill’s believe that would be good practice in every community.

Walgreens will enlarge WWII photographs at no charge if asked in the Spirit of '45, Auston said.

The O’Neills plan to drive across the country until next summer, carrying the message, sparking interest and spreading the spirit. From North Platte, they headed Tuesday to Scottsbluff.

For more information about the Spirit of '45 or to donate, see www.spiritof45.org


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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 3/25/2014
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