Spotlight shines on Liberty Memorial
The Kansas City Star
Kansas Citians have good reason to think big when it comes to observing the centennial of World War I, which stretched from 1914 to 1918.
In an encouraging start, Congress has decided that planning for the U.S. observance of the centennial will be based in Kansas City, carried out by a 12-member commission.
One of the first orders of business should be inviting President Barack Obama here in 2014 to appropriately honor the memory of millions of veterans who served in the war. Events involving the president could take place at the impressively restored Liberty Memorial.
U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver and U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, both Democrats, have been involved in promoting the memorial for its national significance. They have the political pull that could help make Obama’s visit happen.
Meanwhile, Liberty Memorial officials have the opportunity to make sure dozens of events — some local, others national in scope — take place in Kansas City from 2014 to 2018. The potential to attract tourists from around the world is enticing.
Local, state and federal taxpayers along with the private sector spent tens of millions of dollars to first restore the memorial in the late 1990s and then in 2006 to add a large and impressive museum.
Designed by Ralph Appelbaum Associates, the National World War I Museum features the largest collection of Great War materials in the nation. The facility includes interactive exhibits, replica trenches, uniforms, guns, maps, photographs, theaters and a research center/library.
It’s a shame that political infighting has prevented Congress from naming Liberty Memorial as the national memorial to the war. Some people want to establish an official memorial in Washington.
For Kansas Citians who haven’t visited yet or want another tour, Liberty Memorial officials are offering Kansas City residents two free tickets to the museum and tower in January and February. Residents must show a photo ID and a utility bill with a Kansas City address.
The National World War I Museum helps Americans better understand not just the events that caused World War I but also the forces that still shape the world’s political stage a century later.
Finally, a high priority for the centennial should be to emphasize one of the Liberty Memorial’s main missions. As the inscription on the building’s Great Frieze reads, in part, “Let us strive on to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”