Event features music, dances of days gone by to honor service of WWII veterans

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SALT LAKE CITY -- It was a musical tribute to the men and women whose efforts and sacrifice brought World War II to an end.

FOX 13 cameras were rolling at the Gallivan Center this week, as hundreds danced the night away to the big band hits of the era.

The night started out with swing dancing lessons, and, by the end of it, everyone from beginners to more advanced practitioners packed the dance floor.

Utah’s Ted Calcara and The New Deal Swing was there live to play the big hits of the WWII era.

The 16-piece band specializes in classic jazz and swing music. The musical travels back in time were all part of a tribute for members of the military and their families.

Several soldiers were honored, including a 91-year-old WWII veteran named Roy Stapp.

“I was a pilot of a B-26,” Stapp said. “Fifty missions: 25 over Italy and 25 over Germany.”

Stapp said it's a great honor to see younger generations acknowledge his sacrifice.

“I just recently was able to go on the Honor Flight and was very delighted at the young people who came by to express their appreciation,” Stapp said.

Swing dancers said it was not only an exciting atmosphere, but also a great cause.

“It’s cool to be dancing outside of these huge buildings, and just feel like you’re back in time in the '40s and enjoying the nice weather,” Dancer Julie Shurtleff said. “My grandpa was a veteran, Charlie Shaw, and [my spouse's] grandfather was in the World War II as well, and it’s just amazing that people were willing to sacrifice so much to help us to be where we are today.”

Veterans said they enjoyed seeing people dancing to the same music they did 70 years ago.

“I like it,” Stapp said. “I can’t get involved with it, I never did that much as a youngster, but they're full of vim and vigor. And I hope they put some of that energy to remembering the flag and to remember what people did for them and are doing in the military.”

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