Wilmington on track to become first World War II City in U.S.

The U.S. House passed a bill Monday to recognize Wilmington as the first American World War II City, which puts the measure on track to be considered by the U.S. Senate. The House vote marks the end of a two-year effort to secure legislative approval for the World War II honor. Proclaiming Wilmington as an American World War II City was the brainchild of Wilbur Jones, a Wilmington native and military historian.

In a city that draws outsiders, college students and visitors, the honor would highlight the history of a war that ended nearly 70 years ago. If the designation is finalized, the city will put the honor under its official “Welcome to Wilmington” signs on the city’s entranceways, Mayor Bill Saffo said. The naming could also connect younger people with a war associated with an older generation, such as grandparents or great-grandparents.

“It will be a living symbolism of connecting today with yesterday,” Jones said. “It will give young people another reason to show interest in history.” Jones, who was recently appointed to the USS North Carolina Battleship Commission, said the World War II honor would be an opportunity to increase the battleship’s visibility. During World War II, the battleship was a part of every significant naval offensive in the Pacific.