Nacogdoches event celebrates 70th anniversary of World War II end

Published: Aug. 17, 2015 at 1:19 AM CDT
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Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Honoring a generation and reflecting on a rich history; that is why many gathered today in Nacogdoches for the Spirit of 45, celebrating not only the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, but the lives of those who fought so long ago.

"We have veterans that are getting older in their age and may be more difficult for them to get out, when I see them here, it just warms my soul," said Constance Engelking, Spirit of 45 organizer.

And attendees enjoyed everything from sausage on a stick, root beer floats, to even a vintage aircraft fly over.

"I just get excited! I feel like you can just reach out and touch the bellies of the planes as they come by," Engelking said.

While today marks the 70th anniversary since the war ended, for at least one WWII veteran, the memories live on.

"Well, those kind of things you don't forget very easily. They don't leave your memory very much," said Winton Canfield, who served in the U.S. Navy from November of 1942 to November of 1945.

And at 95 years young, Canfield still recalls the reason he enlisted.

"I joined the navy to see the world and I saw the world. I started out in the South Pacific," Canfield said.

And from there, he went on to see the Atlantic Coast, England and even the Isle of Capri until things took a turn for the worst.

"They dropped the bomb and I got out. Right after they dropped the bomb, I left Okinawa and came back to the states," Canfield said.

Back to the states, where many didn't hesitate today to honor such a sacrifice, like that of Canfield and millions of others.

And while those commonly referred to as the 'Greatest Generation' may be fading fast, for Canfield, plans to slow down aren't in sight.

"I'm fortunate, I'm 95 years old. I'm in good health so I'm looking forward to many more," Canfield said.

According to the National World War II Museum, of the 16 million Americans who served in WWII, around 855,000 are still alive today, with around 52,000 here in Texas.

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