I continue this week with some great day trips in Missouri. This week we have a hidden jewel in the Liberty Memorial and the National World War I Museum in Kansas City.
Construction began on the Liberty Memorial in 1921, three years after the cease fire of World War I (the Great War, 1914-18), and was completed in 1926. Congress designated the museum as the National World War I Museum in 2004. The museum holds several displays and artifacts from the Great War. These are divided into two groups: before the U.S. entered the war and after.
Here are a few facts about the memorial and the war:
o The "flame" atop the memorial is actually steam from the boiler and is illuminated by colored lights.
o The archives house approximately 60,000 documents from the era.
o Approximately 8 million troops died and 21 million were wounded in the war.
o Approximately 11 percent of the French population perished.
o Although the war lasted a little over four years, U.S. troops saw action for seven and a half months.
o Of the total casualties, 116,000 Americans died and 204,000 were wounded.
o The Great War touched off the Russian Revolution, and civil war ensued. The czar and his entire family were killed. Eventually, V.I. Lenin established the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. This communist state lasted from 1922 until the end of 1991 when the land empire broke apart and the Russian Federation emerged.
o President Woodrow Wilson envisioned a world peacekeeping organization, the League of Nations. Although he signed the treaty, he could not prevent the French from punishing the Germans. Wilson met opposition to the treaty at home, and as a result the U.S. never fully joined the League. The war reparation payments exacted on the Germans proved to be so punitive and difficult that the new and fragile republic eventually collapsed. Adolf Hitler took power in the political vacuum and began rebuilding German military forces. The U.S., Britain, and France did nothing to prevent this buildup and eventually Nazi Germany began to expand. Finally, the German invasion of Poland in September 1939 began World War II, very much a continuation of the first conflict.