It was the era of a toe-stomping Chattanooga Choo Choo or dancing close to Moonlight Serenade -- a time when today's World War II veterans were young soldiers fighting a major war.
Those big-band sounds will help honor World War II veterans at Victory Canteen II, scheduled for May 31 at the Aladdin Shrine Center, 3850 Stelzer Road, Columbus.
"Most of these veterans never had a welcome-home celebration of any kind," said Reynoldsburg resident Gloria Campana, who is organizing the event. "I asked a veteran what kind of welcome he got and he said, 'Well, I got off the bus and got my duffel and walked two miles home.'
"That's just not right," she said. "We lost so many young men and women and they won one of the most brutal wars in all of history."
Campana said Victory Canteen II will include dinner, entertainment and dancing starting at 5 p.m. Saturday, May 31. The event is open to the public and free to World War II veterans; to obtain tickets, veterans should call Campana at 614-483-8829 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For all others, tickets for dinner, the dance and the show cost $50; for the dance and show only, tickets cost $30. A reserved table for 10 is priced at $550.
Tickets are available at the Aladdin Shrine Center or online at victorycanteencolumbus.org.
More information is available by calling 614-475-2609.
Widows and widowers of deceased veterans may attend the Victory Canteen II at no charge by calling or emailing Campana and bringing a photo of the deceased veteran. She said the photos will be displayed on a memorial table.
Featured entertainment will be provided by actor Bill Johnson, portraying Bob Hope, and Capt. Tom Daughterty's 15-piece orchestra, wearing full World War II uniforms and recreating Glenn Miller's Army Air Force Band.
Campana said 99-year-old veteran Virginia Parrish of Columbus was an Army nurse during the war.
"Virginia will be at the Victory Canteen and will receive her World War II Victory Medal," Campana said. "Before the event two years ago, I researched medals online and saw that the victory medals were commissioned by Congress in 1945. I called my dad and asked to see his medal but he didn't have one."
Campana said generals attending the first Canteen gave out victory medals to 117 veterans.
All net proceeds from the May 31 event will benefit Honor Flight Columbus, Campana said. The goal is to sponsor another Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., so veterans can visit the World War II Memorial.
Campana said each Honor Flight costs about $50,000.
"I'm a big fan of the work that Honor Flight does," she said.
She organized a Victory Canteen two years ago that helped to raise funds for an Honor Flight sponsored by the Reynoldsburg and Gahanna schools and communities in April 2013.
Campana said at least 10 veterans are expected to receive medals at this year's event.
"It is a night of celebration," she said. "We celebrate their victory and give thanks that we have our freedom. We can't thank them enough, really, no matter what we do."
She said a number of local businesses and organizations are sponsoring the event, with presenting sponsors The Basement Doctor and Dynalab.
Ron Greenbaum, owner of The Basement Doctor, said he was also a sponsor of the last Canteen.
"I was at the Canteen two years ago with the vets and saw the effect on veterans and their families," he said. "Their stories are so compelling.
"They did so much for us," he said. "I'm Jewish and these are the same people who marched into concentration camps and freed the people in the camps. The Victory Canteen II is a celebration and salute to these veterans who are leaving us at a rapid rate. We want to make sure there is a legacy left for them and their families."