Lawmakers react to President Trump’s visit, WWII Heritage City designation

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — President Trump’s visit to Wilmington on Wednesday was a culmination of more than a dozen years of work by lawmakers and a Wilmington veteran.

“It is my tremendous honor to officially designate Wilmington, North Carolina as our nation’s very first World War II heritage city,” President Trump declared while standing in front of the USS North Carolina. “That’s a big deal, our nation’s very first, Wilmington, congratulations to you all.”

During World War II in Wilmington, more than 20,000 workers of the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company built 243 ships for the US Navy. The president’s announcement follows more than 12 years of work by lawmakers, championed by retired navy captain Wilbur Jones.

“This program, nothing like it had ever been done, established in the United States,” Jones said ahead of the president’s visit. “So little old Wilmington got this ball rolling.”

Jones was personally recognized by President Trump during his speech.

“So Wilbur, you know a lot of people wanted this right?” the president asked. “So you are just a tough cookie, you got it. Number one, number one in the nation. I want to thank Wilbur, that’s great.”

Trump also recognized Congressman David Rouzer and Senator Thom Tillis who worked on the cause. Both men reacted to the president’s visit.

“I think it really meant a lot to our men and women who have served and there’s so many in the area who had relatives who served in World War II, so many who had relatives who contributed to the war effort,” Rouzer said. “And this was really to recognize and honor them in a very very special way, so you can’t do better than to have the President of the United States come and do that.”

“There are a lot of people who want to claim credit for what happened today, but the reality is this was many years of work, a dozen years with Wilbur Jones on the front lines, Congressman Mcintyre, Governor McCrory, David Rouzer, and we just played our small part, but I’m glad we got it done,” Tillis said.

Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo, holding an official proclamation signed by US Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, also reacted to the day’s events.

“There were other communities and cities around the country that also wanted that designation, so the Secretary of the Interior was the one that ultimately made the decision that we would be the first, and then of course the president coming in today to honor that and to say that we would be the first and to declare that is a big honor,” Saffo said.

Click here to watch President Trump’s full speech.

Click here to read the transcript of President Trump’s speech.

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