Linda Laurie – Helping veterans get recognition
By Emily Sorensen
A lifetime of teaching and counseling has led to Poway resident Linda Laurie’s true passion: helping World War II veterans get the honor and remembrance they deserve.
As part of the Spirit of ‘45, Laurie has worked tirelessly, mostly on a volunteer basis, fighting not only to get an official, federal day of recognition for all the men and women involved in World War II, but to make sure the memories of those veterans are preserved for future generations.
Volunteering isn’t anything new to Laurie. She began her lifelong love of service at the age of 12, for the Danny Thomas Teenager’s March for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. By the following year, Laurie was organizing volunteers for three cities.
Laurie kept looking for volunteer opportunities during her career teaching, and also working as a job placement counselor for the deaf. Her interest in working with veterans was piqued six years ago, while visiting her father in a hospice in Los Angeles. Laurie became involved with Veterans Services, serving holiday meals to veterans. “I just fell in love with the work of working with veterans,” said Laurie.
Three years ago, she discovered the “Keep the Spirit of ‘45 Alive” campaign and found her calling.
Laurie was part of the campaign with Congressman Bob Filner to make “Spirit of ‘45” Day a reality. Held the second Sunday in August, the day is a remembrance and a thank you to all the men and women who served in World War II. “It’s the first time an entire generation has had a day for them,” said Laurie. “[World War II] was the one time in our country when everyone was fighting the war, not just the soldiers who went off fighting.”
Now, the day is celebrated around the world, in museums and organizations, as well as a number of Major League Baseball teams, thanks to Laurie’s efforts in calling each individual team.
Laurie also works to archive pictures and stories from veterans of their experiences in World War II and on that final day in 1945, often with students. “I realized there were a lot of kids who didn’t know World War II was real,” said Laurie. “It’s an opportunity for the young to meet World War II veterans, and be inspired by them.”
The experience is beneficial for both the kids and the veterans, Laurie said. “The kids can have hope and a renewed sense of spirit to go forward, from learning from the veterans,” said Laurie.
Laurie also recently helped out with a fundraiser at the Poway Elks Club, to raise money for an Honor Flight, an organization that works to fly World War II veterans to see the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C. “I was working with Honor Flight because they work with more veterans than any other organization,” said Laurie.
Thanks to the fundraiser, eight additional veterans were able to be taken on the latest Honor Flight from San Diego. “I’m going to become more involved in Honor Flight, especially in San Diego,” said Laurie. “We have a lot of veterans who are still healthy enough to travel.”
Now the national events coordinator for the campaign, Laurie networks with people across the country, getting the word out about National Spirit of ‘45 Day, and organizing conferences. “I’m one of the people involved in rallying people across the country,” said Laurie.
To find out more about “Keep the Spirit of ‘45 Alive,” visit www.Spiritof45.org.
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