The Spirit of ‘45 Express Tour stopped last week at the state Capitol in Salem before arriving Thursday afternoon at the Brig. Gen. James B. Thayer Military Museum in Clackamas as part of the national tour to honor the men and women of America’s Greatest Generation.

At the future site of the museum at Camp Withycombe, tour officials met with Thayer to present him with the Spirit of ‘45 Day National Leaders Medal in recognition of his service to his country and community during and after WWII.

Thayer’s partial list of military honors includes the Silver Star; Bronze Star; Combat Infantry Badge; Oregon National Guard Exceptional Service Medal; and Oregon National Guard Distinguished Service Award.

Thayer’s civilian achievements include positions as civilian aide to the U.S. Secretary of the Army; director of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commission; and vice president of the Oregon chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army.

Alisha Hamel, founder and executive director of the Historical Outreach Foundation, joined Thayer at the museum. In partnership with the museum and the WWII Memorial Foundation, Hamel’s organization is committed to preserving and sharing the stories of American veterans.

“Oregon had approximately 152,000 who served in WWII,” Hamel said. “Over 3,700 service members were killed in action, and around 24,000 WWII veterans are still living in Oregon today. We owe Brig. Gen. Thayer, and the thousands of men and women, a tremendous debt of gratitude.”

The Historical Outreach Foundation is working closely with the foundation charged with creating the Oregon WWII Memorial in Salem, and will continue to administer the online and education components of the memorial after the dedication this June.

Hamel thinks that it is critical to “ensure that future generations will never forget the sacrifices made by those who served, and those who paid the ultimate price for their service to country.”

At the conclusion of the presentation, bugler Auston O’Neill Jr. played “Taps” for those assembled at the museum. O’Neill, whose father was a decorated WWII veteran, performs at the National World War II Memorial each year on Spirit of ‘45 Day. He is one of the 2,000 buglers participating in a round-the-world wreath-laying ceremony scheduled to take place in August 2015 marking the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII.

“We want to encourage families of the 16 million who served in uniform and the millions more who supported them on the homefront, to take this opportunity to honor these ordinary heroes who did so much for our country and the world,” O’Neill said. “Their spirit of courage, shared sacrifice, and service to others must continue to inspire future generations of Americans.”

Barbara Jensen is Oregon’s representative for the National Spirit of ‘45 campaign.

“I am so pleased that Oregon honors the WWII generation by keeping the spirit alive in our communities so as to inspire our youth,” she said.

The 2010 U.S. Congress created the Spirit of ‘45 Day to honor the WWII generation. The day is observed on the second Sunday in August, aligning with the anniversary of the end of WWII on Aug. 14, 1945. Oregon passed its own version of Spirit of ‘45 Day in 2013.

The Spirit of ‘45 Express tour began last month in Washington, D.C., and will travel throughout the country during the next two years to promote events that are being planned to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII in August 2015.

For more information about the Historical Outreach Foundation, go to

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