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THE BILL establishing the
World War II Heritage City
program, to be administered
by the Secretary of the Inte-rior
through the National
Park Service, passed in Feb. 2019, and was
signed by Trump the following month.
Wilmington applied to be the first city
recognized. It easily met and exceeded the
criteria — in no small part because Jones
and the North Carolina congressional
delegation established the criteria.
“It was our idea,” Jones said. “We took
the lead, we did all the work. There would
be no national heritage program had it
not been for Wilmington.”
Jones calls it a case study in how to get
things done in Congress. It’s also a case
study in perseverance.
“My lifelong credo has been never give
up,” he says. “That’s what guided me.
Along with constant prayers. The Lord
got so tired of me with all these prayers.”
Secretary of the Interior David
Bernhardt attended the ceremony, and
presented Jones, Rouzer, Tillis and
Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo with
copies of the proclamation.
“I went into orbit, and frankly I haven’t
come down,” Jones says. “I intend to have
a duplicate copy made of mine and put in
the Hannah Block USO, because that’s
the hub of our World War II activities.”
The ceremony at the battleship was the
culmination of a quest that took more
than a dozen years. But it didn’t mark
the end of Jones’s work.
“I’m really relieved that it’s over,” he
says. “I’ve moved on to other projects.”
They include the publication of
his memoir, which was scheduled
for the spring but was delayed by the
pandemic. And naturally, the World
War II historian and proud Wilming-tonian
isn’t finished promoting his
hometown’s role in the conflict.
“Now that we have the designation, we
need to have the right players, the Chamber
of Commerce, the Convention and Visitors’
Bureau, to tell the world that we’re here.
The world will be interested. There’s a huge
global interest in World War II history.
We need now to blow our horn.”
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