Saturday, August 21, 2010

In Flanders Fields

In the late 1920s, Kansas City completed construction of the Liberty Memorial, dedicated to the fallen in World War I. The National WWI Museum opened four years ago at the Liberty Memorial, and we finally had a chance to visit. Inspired by John McCrae's famous poem, the entryway features a glass bridge over a field of poppies, with each poppy representing 1,000 combat deaths. While compact, the museum has engaging interactive displays, well-produced short films, and many objects from the time period. While we would like to have seen more material dedicated to the civilian side of life (and death) during the war (most of the objects on display were ordnance and uniforms), the collection was impressive and told a fascinating story.

We learned quite a bit at the museum. For example, we were not fully aware of the global nature of the war. Not only was the extent of campaigns in Africa and Asia a revelation, but the museum solved a family mystery. Erik's grandfather was stationed in Texas during WWI, a deployment that we always found puzzling. But, even prior to the Zimmermann Telegram in which a German official proposed a Mexican alliance with Germany (to regain territories that the US took in the 19th century), the US had a southern "front" along the border.

A storm approached as we arrived at the Liberty Memorial. It was closed because of lightning, but we were later able to ascend to the top.

The view from the Liberty Memorial is spectacular, featuring the KC skyline, Union Station, and other notable landmarks.

Lea at the top of the memorial

One of the interactive displays allowed visitors to create fake propaganda images by mashing together elements from various posters. Our effort to encourage wartime austerity is above.

We only had a few hours at the museum, but it deserves more time and attention. We'll certainly visit again.

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