The National Park Service has named Savannah as a World War II Heritage City, joining a list of 19 communities in the U.S. which the agency recognizes as having played pivotal roles in the war effort through their civilian workforces.
For Savannah and Chatham County, that role was driven in large part by the Port of Savannah, which shipped 1.24 million tons of war materiel produced by local companies, according to the NPS.
Additionally, local shipbuilders manufactured minesweepers and cargo vessels, and local citizens bought enough war bonds to purchase a B-17 bomber, aptly named “City of Savannah.”
The NPS noted that some 5,000 civilian volunteers aided the U.S. Coast Guard and the Georgia State Guard in protecting Savannah’s maritime facilities, monitoring for threats on both the water and in the skies.
With the exception of Oak Ridge, Tenn., all Southern cities on the list are located along the coast: Corpus Christi, Texas; New Orleans, La.; Pascagoula, Miss.; Pensacola, Fla.; and Wilmington, N.C.
The World War II Heritage Cities program was established by Congress in 2019 as part of a law focused on conservation, resource management and recreation that passed with broad bipartisan support.
Under that law, each state or U.S. territory is limited to only one World War II Heritage City designation, chosen by the Secretary of the Interior in consultation with the Smithsonian Institution and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
This story comes to Rough Draft Atlanta through a reporting partnership with GPB News, a non-profit newsroom covering the state of Georgia.