The museum site, the Liberty Memorial, is the only major WW1 monument in the US. It is on a par with those in Verdun.
History of the Memorial
“In honor of those who served in the world war in defense of liberty and our country.” – inscription, on the Liberty Memorial tower in Downtown Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
The quote above best depicts the reasons and emotions behind the raising of the Liberty Memorial Monument. World War I (1914-1918), which ended on the Western Front in Europe on November 11, 1918, had dramatically changed the world and deeply affected future generations.
After the guns were silenced and the huge celebrations had died down, concerned citizens in the United States reflected on the past War and on the losses sustained. What could be done to honor and remember, they wondered. Just two weeks after the Armistice, a meeting of Kansas Citians brought forth the idea and need for the creation of a lasting monument to all men and women in the war and to those who died.
R.A. Long, founding president of the Liberty Memorial Association stated: "From its inception it was intended that this Memorial should represent on the part of all people, a living expression for all time of the gratitude of a grateful people to those who offered and who gave their lives in defense of liberty and our country."
A community-based fund-raising drive in 1919, led by this Association, raised over $2,500,000 in less than two weeks through public subscription in Kansas City and around the nation. This staggering accomplishment reflected the passion of public opinion about the Great War, which so recently ended. Following the drive, a national architectural competition was held for monument designs by the American Institute of Architects.
The competitors were: Bliss and Faville, San Francisco; Paul P. Cret and Zantzinger, Borie & Medary, Philadelphia; Bertram G. Goodhue, New York; H. Van Buren Magonigle, New York; York & Sawyer, New York; A.B. Anderson, Kansas City; Brostrom & Drotts, Kansas City; Edward Buehler Delk, Kansas City; Greenebaum, Hardy & Schumacher, Kansas City; Samuel M. Hitt, Kansas City; Hoit, Price & Barnes, Kansas City; Keene & Simpson, Kansas City; Selby & Kurfiss, Kansas City; Wight & Wight, Kansas City; and C.M. Williams, Kansas City.
The competition yielded the selected design by architect H. Van Buren Magonigle.
The site for the Liberty Memorial was dedicated on November 1, 1921. The main Allied military leaders spoke to a crowd of close to 200,000 people. It was the only time in history that these leaders were together at one place. In attendance were Lieutenant General Baron Jacques of Belgium; General Armando Diaz of Italy; Marshal Ferdinand Foch of France; General John J. Pershing of the United States; and Admiral David Beatty of Great Britain.
After three years of construction, the completed Liberty Memorial opened on November 11, 1926 –eight years after the end of the War. President Calvin Coolidge delivered the dedication speech, in which he spoke of how "the magnitude of this memorial, and the broad base of popular support on which it rests, can scarcely fail to excite national wonder and admiration