Virginia WWI and WWII Commemoration Commission

Over the course of the Commission's duration, hundreds of events and programs were being conducted by museums and local partners across the state to commemorate Virginia's involvement in WWI and WWII. From museum and memorial dedications, to tributes to veterans and educational lectures and symposiums, the Virginia World War I and World War II Commemoration Commission helped to plan and promote many events to mark the 100th anniversary of WWI and the 75th anniversary of WWII.

Click the images below to learn more about, watch highlights from, and relive in full, the Commission's past signature events: 

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September 2, 2020

The culminating event in Virginia’s statewide commemoration of the 75th anniversary of World War II took place on Wednesday, September 2, 2020, at 9:00a.m. As a virtual ceremony live-streamed from the deck of the USS Wisconsin in Norfolk. The ceremony, emceed by Greg McQuade, featured a reading from General Douglas MacArthur's September 2, 1945, speech by Major General Timothy Williams of the Virginia National Guard, followed by a moment of silence, the playing of taps, and a US Navy Flyover at 9:08am, marking the exact moment of the signing of surrender 75 year earlier. A keynote from Chris Kolakowski, director of the Wisconsin Veterans Museum and former director of the MacArthur Memorial, as well as remote remarks from WWII sites around Virginia closed out the commemoration.

2020 Signature Event

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November 11, 2018

The Virginia WWI & WWII Commemoration Commission, the Virginia War Memorial, and the Department of Veterans Services honored veterans at the Commonwealth's Annual Veterans Day Ceremony on the 100th anniversary of the end of Great War at the WWI Carillon in Richmond. The ceremony featured a bell-tolling at 11:00 a.m, followed by a presentation from the VaNG's WWI Doughboy Color Guard, music from the 392nd Army Band, student essays, and remarks by dignitaries, including Gov. Ralph Northam, Speaker Kirk Cox, Sec. of Veterans and Defense Affairs Carlos Hopkins, and Director of the VAWM, Clay Mountcastle. The afternoon Armistice Day Festival featured students' WWI-themed art on display in the Carillon, displays from museums around the state, crafts, games, music, a Carillon bell concert, antique car display, and more.

2018 Signature Event

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June 2, 2017

VA WWI Centennial Commemoration Event

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of America's entry into WWI, a ceremony was held at Virginia's official state memorial to World War I, the Carillon Tower at Byrd Park in Richmond, Virgnia. Beginning with a concert of the Carillon’s bells just before noon, the program featured speakers including Governor Terry McAuliffe, Major General Timothy P. Williams of the Virginia National Guard. and renown Virginia and World War 1 historian and educator, Dr. Lynn Rainville of Sweet Briar College. Music for the event was provided by the John Marshall Regimental Band Alumni. Delegate Kirk Cox, Chairman of the Virginia WWI & WWII Commemoration Commission, served as master of ceremonies for this historic event that also included displays from statwide museum partners and the Profiles of Honor tour, and 3D artifact scanning.

2017 Signature Event

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December 8, 2016

"Welcome Home, Dr. Heilman!"

In 2015, Dr. E. Bruce Heilman, who served in World War II as a young Marine during the battle of Okinawa, rode by motorcycle more than 6,000 miles from the East Coast to the West Coast to mark the 70th anniversary of the last and biggest battle of the Pacific Theater in WWII, which lasted 82 days (April 1 to June 22, 1945) and claimed the lives of 14,000 Americans and more than 250,000 Japanese. In 2016, in celebration of his 90th birthday and to recognize the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entry into World War II, Dr. Heilman recreated the cross-country motorcycle ride. In honor of the more than 2,000 who died during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Dr. Heilman traveled through states that had namesake ships that were hit by bombs and torpedoes and lost crew members during the attack.

2016 Partnership Event

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June 6, 2019

"The Final Salute: D-Day Plus 75 Years" was our 2019 Signature Event marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day. This program was one of the National D-Day Memorial's biggest educational undertakings yet, and its largest event since the national dedication in 2001. With 10,000 visitors in attendance, and nearly 100 WWII veterans. “The Final Salute” combined the best of the Memorial with the best of the D-Day story: a gathering of veterans and the general public at the nation’s memorial to the invasion of Normandy for reflection and remembrance – the story of ordinary people in extraordinary moments. We observed this 75th anniversary with six days of ceremonies, including a keynote address from Vice President of the United States Mike Pence, displays, interviews, and much more. 

2019 Signature Event

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June 2, 2017

The Battle of Midway is often referred to as the "turning point" of the war in the Pacific. Six months after the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese Navy was preparing to deliver a decisive blow that would destroy the U.S. Navy and leave Japan the uncontested power in the Pacific. The Japanese set a trap hoping to catch what was left of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, but unbeknownst to the them, American commanders laid a counter trap. "The Tide Turns", a symposium hosted in partnership with the MacArthur Memorial and the Hampton Roads Naval Museum was held on June 2, 2017 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the battle, and featured lectures by experts, book signings, and commemorative exhibits. Watch the program, recorded by C-SPAN, by clicking on the link to this event's page.

2017 Partnership Event

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December 8, 2016

"Dawn of Infamy: America Goes to War"

A tribute to WWII veterans, Dawn of Infamy: America Goes to War marked the 75th anniversary of the United States' entry into WWII on December 8, 1941. This event featured an Honor Parade of World War II veterans, remarks by dignitaries, and a keynote address from Pulitzer Prize winning military historian Rick Atkinson, author of the best-selling Liberation Trilogy, A special recognition ceremony was a key part of the program, during which each World War II Veteran in attendance received a commemorative medallion designed for the occasion. More than 80 WWII veterans, 100 active-duty military escorts, and hundreds of family and friends gathered to honor the men and women of the greatest generation for their service, while hundreds more participated at viewing sites across the state.

2016 Signature Event


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