SAN DIEGO (KGTV)- For the first time in 18 months, Honor Flight San Diego held an in-person event for local veterans, a celebration of the end of World War II.
The Spirit of '45 is a day observed across the United States on the second Sunday in August each year, honoring those who served, and allowing communities an opportunity to hear their stories.
Honor Flight San Diego was thrilled to host the event for the first time Sunday, especially after different delays and cancellations in 2020 due to the pandemic.
"We haven't seen them in the last 18 months except for drive-by birthdays, we've done a drive-by Veterans Day parade, but this is our first in-person event, we've missed them," said Holly Shaffner, the director of public relations for Honor Flight San Diego.
Because of capacity limits, the event was not open to the public this year. Honor Flight volunteers made calls to approximately 1,000 WWII and Korean War veterans or their family members to extend the invite. About 150 veterans and their guests were expected to attend Sunday.
All attendees were asked to wear masks inside of the Seaside Room at the Marina Village Conference Center.
"We're taking COVID-19 precautions, so everyone that's inside the venue has to be masked up, we've taken temperatures, we're contact tracing," Shaffner explained.
She said they weren't only honoring World War II veterans Sunday, but also Korea War-era veterans, bringing them together for a special Honor Flight reunion.
After a performance of the National Anthem by a Marine Corps Veteran, a trumpeter played the Armed Forced Medley, honoring each branch of the military.
Then, the mic was handed to the WWII veterans who shared where they were on August 14, 1945, when they heard the war was over.
This year, Honor Flight San Diego's three-day trip to Washington, D.C. will be held Oct. 1-3.