Yesterday, world leaders gathered in Poland to mark the first belligerent action of WWII, when the German battleship Schleswig-Holstein fired on the Polish military installation, Westerplatte, in Gdansk Harbor in 1939. To view CNN's report on the gathering, Click Here.
As an organization born out of WWII, AMVETS also took the time to commemorate the somber day when new National Commander Duane J. Miskulin delivered remarks in the USS Arizona room at AMVETS National Headquarters.
"This is a day that demands our reflection," said Miskulin. "The first move of Nazi aggression against Poland would come to define an entire generation of Americans--Americans who succeeded in defeating a brutal, tyrannical enemy; Americans who put the preservation of freedom and the welfare of our nation ahead of personal concerns."
WWII is very personal for Miskulin, who had two uncles, Jerome Miskulin and Lloyd Cater, who served in the conflict. Jerome served as a Marine during the historic battle of Iwo Jima, earning the Purple Heart. Cater served in the Army, but also worked as a cook aboard a ship during the Pacific campaign.
Originally established as American Veterans of WWII, AMVETS has long been a vocal advocate for WWII veterans and preserving the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
AMVETS played an integral role in commissioning the USS Arizona memorial at Pearl Harbor. AMVETS also helped to finance its renovation in the 1980s. Original artifacts from the USS Arizona and the original memorial are permanently on display at the AMVETS National Headquarters, where Miskulin delivered his remarks.
In the 64 years that have passed since the unconditional surrender of Japan and the 65 years that have passed since the first meeting of AMVETS, the organization has grown to accept all veterans and current members of the military who have served honorably. However, the organization has remained dedicated to preserving the memory of the "Greatest Generation" through coordinating Honor Flights to the National WWII Memorial, visiting with allies to honor American veterans laid to rest on the former battlefields of Europe, and countless other local projects at AMVETS posts and departments nationwide.
(Photo: AMVETS National Commander Duane J. Miskulin looks over the painting of the USS Arizona Memorial and other historical pieces in the USS Arizona room at AMVETS National Headquarters. Photo by Isaac D. Pacheco.)