The Michigan WWI Commission pays tribute to Eugene I. Van Antwerp for his work to establish Armistice Day as a national holiday to honor our veterans.
Who is Eugene I. Van Antwerp
If you are like us, you didn’t know that Eugene I. Van Antwerp was a Michigan veteran of World War I who led the efforts to have Armistice Day declared a national holiday. Armistice Day eventually became what we know as Veterans Day after the Korean war. This is yet another inspiring story of real people doing outstanding work in service of their country that we’ve learned from the Michigan WWI Commission and its association with the Michigan Military Heritage Museum.
Eugene I. Van Antwerp was a Michigan native from Detroit who served as a captain in World War 1. He was an engineer with the 16th Regiment of Engineers from Detroit who served in France from 1917 through 1919. They were critical to moving tons of supplies to the front. Imagine being a young man of 28 years old in a foreign land where you are responsible for keeping supplies going for soldiers on the front whose lives depend on it. Eugene I. Van Antwerp was that man. This video from the Michigan WWI Centennial committee gives a fine summary on Mr. Van Antwerp’s life and accomplishments.
Special presentation to Dennis Skupinski
Our friends Scott Gerych, a Michigan Military Heritage Museum board member and Dennis Skupinski, the Michigan World War 1 Commission Chair told us about the event to honor Eugene I. Van Antwerp. The event was held at the Michigan Miltary Heritage Museum in Grass Lake, Michigan. Given this was yet another wonderful opportunity to learn, we headed over for the dedication.
Scott started the presentation by calling attention to the brilliant efforts of Dennis Skupinski. Dennis has led the Michigan WWI Centennial efforts to call attention to the intriguing stories behind Michigan’s veterans of World War 1 and the major events which shaped history. We have been happy to join the ride which included honoring the band Sabaton for their music which highlights military history and the “Over Here” event which told stories of the war effort on the home front.
Tribute to Eugene I. Van Antwerp
Dann Todd from VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) post 10194 of Grass Lake led us with the pledge of allegiance and chaplain Bud Freysinger gave a moving prayer. Chaplain Freysinger’s message of peace was very inspiring and especially fitting given that we had just observed Veteran’s day and were approaching Thanksgiving.
VFW state commander Harry Les Croyle came up next to give us a brief history of Eugene I. Van Antwerp and his accomplishments. In addition to leading the efforts of the VFW to urge Congress to make Armistice Day a national holiday in 1938, Mr. Van Antwerp also went on to become the Mayor of Detroit from 1948 to 1950. He also used his position at the VFW to champion benefits for veterans.
To close out the tribute to Eugene I. Van Antwerp, Dennis presented proclamations from the Michigan House of Representatives, Governor Rick Snyder, and Detroit Mayor Mike Dugan to the surviving children of Mr. Van Antwerp. They were all very gracious and were happy to pose for a few pictures.
To relive this inspiring tribute to Mr. Van Antwerp, check out our video of the event.
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