Northwest Florida welcomes Spirit of ’45 Day Express honoring World War II's end

spirit of 45 express
Special to the News Bulletin
Published: Monday, August 18, 2014 at 10:51 AM.

NICEVILLE — The Military Order of the Purple Heart and Northwest Florida State College are proud to sponsor and welcome a visit by the Spirit of ’45 Day Express Aug. 19. The bus will be in front of the college’s Arena from 10 a.m. to noon on Aug. 19 at 100 College Blvd.

The visit includes a short welcome by College President Ty Handy and other dignitaries, at 10 am. Following the welcome, guest may tour the Spirit of 45 bus and the NWF State College Doolittle Raider Exhibit. Coffee, water and cookies will be available.

>>See a campus map showing the bus's location.

Auston and Bonnie O'Neill are driving the bus throughout America to help publicize Spirit of ’45 Day, which is Aug. 14, aligning with the anniversary of the end of World War II on Aug. 14, 1945. Their trip is also promoting interest in commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in 2015.

The O'Neills have traveled more than 25,000 miles in the bus since early February, visiting 40 states. They will make several high-visibility stops this year, culminating in an appearance in the New York City Veterans Day Parade on Nov. 11.

It is only fitting that Northwest Florida State College hosts the local visit. NWF was the first college in Florida to be designated a Purple Heart College by the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

The college is also  home to a permanent exhibit commemorating the Doolittle Raiders, whose daring air raid on Japan after Pearl Harbor helped lift the nation’s spirits and strengthen American resolve for the long fight ahead. The exhibit, located in the Arena, just steps from where the Spirit of ’45 Day Express will be parked, will be open in conjunction with the event, and Doolittle Raiders expert Dr. Frank Goldstein will lead exhibit tours.

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