There may be quicker ways to get back to Pittsburgh from a long stay in Red Lodge, Montana, but they don’t take you through Kansas City, Missouri and when you’re a barbecue man like my husband, you take the detour.
The National World War I Memorial and Museum is a great reason to make Kansas City a destination.
The inscription on the Liberty Memorial Tower sets the tone for your visit, “In honor of those who served in the World War in defense of liberty and our country.”
The National World War I Memorial is educational and helps tie in things you think you know with what you ought to know.
With historical facts and details to educate, such as the conflict beginning in 1914 and not officially ending until 1918, thirty-six countries participated, 65 million soldiers fought, and 9 million of them died.
Field of poppies
So what is it about poppies and World War I? This link helps explain the poem by Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae and his description of Flanders Field. The mournfulness will stir your emotions and spur you to donate the next time you see the Veterans of Foreign Wars giving away their poppies.
Entering the exhibit area, you’ll walk over the Paul Sunderland Glass Bridge. Beneath your feet are 9,000 poppies representing the 9 million lost lives in the war.
Hard to believe, but the museum has recreated a crater caused by a 17” Howitzer shell that landed on a French farmhouse. It was eerie, as were the full size trenches we could glimpse through slits in the walls.
The Zimmermann Telegram
Did you know that the impetus to get the United States into World War I was, in part, because Germany proposed an alliance with Mexico and even offered certain US territories to Mexico? If you’re as intrigued as I was, click here to read about the circumstances surrounding our joining the fray as well as the intercepted telegram.
Pittsburgh’s Doughboy statue is in Lawrenceville, site of an arsenal. The museum cites as origination of the nickname, “Reconciliation with Mexico concluded in 1916 when marching soldiers in Pershing’s Expeditionary Force traveled south of the border to fight rebel Pancho Villa. Covered in white adobe dust, the soldiers were called “adobes” or “dobies” by mounted troops. Soon, these dobies, or Doughboys, were deployed to Europe.”
Liberty Memorial Tower
The tower is 217 feet tall and has four carvings around the top, each 40 feet tall. These Guardian Spirits are named Courage, Honor, Patriotism, and Sacrifice.
Memory and Future
These entrancing Assyrian Sphinxes bookend the Liberty Tower. Memory faces east toward France and the battlefields while Future faces west. Each are shielding their eyes from the horrors of war and the unknown of our futures.
If you don’t find yourself with Kansas City on your travel list, check out their online option. It includes:
“Make way for Democracy!” about the lives of African Americans during the war.
“The Christmas Truce of 1914,” we’ve all heard about this, haven’t we? The spontaneous singing of Christmas carols and the exchange of their meager provisions.
And more about the volunteers, the nurses, and the battle of the Somme, in “They Shall Not Pass.”
Fee: $16/per adult except on Wednesday where all tickets are $8
Tours: There are guided group tours and Acoustiguide Audio tours