The end of 2016 and the start of 2017 mark the anniversaries of two momentous events, twenty-five years apart, whose effects irreversibly changed the course of world events in the years that followed--the 75th anniversary of America's entry into World War II in December of 1941, and the 100th anniversary of America's entry into World War I in April of 1917. In both wars, Virginia's role was essential and its contributions and losses incalculable, on the home front and abroad. To commemorate these events and Virginia's role in events that followed, the General Assembly created the Virginia World War I and World War II Commemoration Commission. The Commission works to:
• Honor our veterans, whose sacrifices during these two wars must never be diminished or forgotten--and, in doing so, also communicate to today's service members that they, too, will be remembered. Our first major event, Dawn of Infamy: America Goes to War is a tribute to World War II veterans and will take place at the University of Richmond Robins Center on Thursday, December 8, 2016, marking the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor and America's entry into the war. More than 400,000 Americans--over 11,000 of whom were Virginians--gave their lives in the next four years, and many more were willing to. This program is free and open to the public, but registration is required at www.VirginiaWorldWarII.org/2016tribute. World War II veterans will be recognized at this event and are encouraged to register early.
We are happy to send out stacks of our Save the Date card for distribution in your community; just send us your mailing address. We will also have partner information tables available for brochure distribution at the event, if your organization would like to be involved. The program will be livestreamed via VirginiaWorldWarII.org, so please let us know if you plan to serve as an Internet Partner Site for remote viewing – we will send a commemorative gift for every participating WWII veteran.
More events will follow as anniversary dates occur, including the upcoming 100th anniversary of the US entry into World War I on April 6, 2017, and the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Midway, June 4-6, 2017.
• Provide opportunities to learn and connect by helping people to explore their family history and personal ties to both wars, and by highlighting the many facets of Virginia's role in World War I and World War II through the perspectives of Virginians who experienced the war -- from military support on the battlefront, to civilian support on the home front, to the tragedies of the Holocaust, and more. The Commission will work to make this history accessible to the public across the state through the World War I and World War II Profiles of Honor Tour, a mobile exhibition that will bring an interactive exhibit to museums, libraries, and historic sites throughout Virginia. The tour will bring to life the state's integral role in both wars, highlighting Virginians’ personal stories. As part of the tour, visitors will be invited to bring their own World War I and II-related photographs to be scanned for inclusion in the Virginia Profiles of Honor project. The mobile tour launches in December 2016. Applications for tour stops will be accepted between September 1 and October 14, 2016. Visit www.VirginiaWorldWarI.org and www.VirginiaWorldWarII.org for updates and information.
These two significant anniversaries also provide a timely opportunity to bring students closer to history in the classroom. The Commission is working with the Virginia Department of Education, museums, colleges, and historians across the state to hold a World War I and World War II statewide teacher symposium for middle and high school teachers, which will explore the history of both wars and the ever-expanding resources available to teachers in the classroom. The symposium will be widely accessible to teachers across Virginia, going on the road to each of the eight school regions in the state, and will be recorded for internet download. The teacher symposium will be held in summer 2017.
• Connect visitors to Virginia's many museums, memorials, and sites related to World War I and World War II and support preservation of historic sites in Virginia connected to World War I and World War II. The Commission is supporting museums, historic sites, and organizations that are commemorating the World War I and II anniversaries by offering matching grants of up to $5,000 for the marketing of these initiatives. Applications for the first round of grants are due by August 31, 2016, with another round anticipated in the fall. Visit www.vatc.org/PAM/WWGrants for more information, and contact Angela Wiggins or Steve Galyean with any questions.
We recently held a series of partner information sessions across the state to connect with planning partners about ways to be involved. The current series of sessions has ended, but please contact us if your organization would like to receive more information, and visit us online to read about ways our partners are already getting involved, including:
- Submitting events (online or by email) to Rusty Nix to the WWI/WWII Statewide Calendar of Events and the Virginia Tourism calendar of events.
- Having WWI and WWII-related sites listed in our Places to Visit.
- Applying to use our logo to promote WWI and WWII-related events.
You can keep up with the Commission’s work at our websites, VirginiaWorldWarI.org and VirginiaWorldWarII.org, as well as through the Virginia World War I and Virginia WWII Facebook pages.
Please feel free to contact Cheryl Jackson, executive director, at (804) 786-3591 ext. 276 with any questions. We look forward to working together to remember the people, places, and events that have shaped the world we live in.