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Idaho Man Salutes World War II Veterans On 70th Anniversary

Robin Rausch
World War II vet Bill West will be the guest speaker at Sunday's wreath laying ceremony.

This weekend marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Idaho is celebrating the event with a wreath laying ceremony at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery and a special concert.

Jim Johnston works at Touchmark at Meadow Lake Village retirement community. Every day he works with veterans from World War II, whose stories trigger memories of his own father and uncles who also fought in the war.

Johnston says veterans from the Greatest Generation are now in their 90s, and this is one of the last chances Idaho will have to salute them for what they did.

“They fought that war on multiple fronts, beat down tyranny, won that war and then came home and laid the foundation for the better world we all live in now, and I can’t thank them enough.”

Johnston says many veterans were just kids when they put their lives on hold for four years to fight for their country.

Credit Robin Rausch
Jim Johnston was instrumental in organizing the Spirit of 45 celebration for the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

“Really, I’m kind of in awe for what they did for our country, but yet inspired by their humility by it also.”

Johnston says by 2030, the Greatest Generation will have passed into memory.

“We’ll have nothing but memories and the history of what that generation did for us. Events like this are so important to honor the entire generation, not just those that fought in the war, but the ones who took care of the homefront.”

World War II ended in August of 1945. Johnston helped organize the activities and wreath laying for Idaho’s Spirit of 45 day on Sunday. World War II veteran Bill West is the guest speaker. He is 92 and was honored to be asked to talk about V-J, or Victory over Japan Day.

Saturday, the 1940s-era singing group the Victory Belles will perform at the Warhawk Air Museum. All World War II veterans will get in free.

Credit Robin Rausch
Air Force pilot Bill West stands on the wing of his plane in World War II.

Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio

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