Why is America’s preeminent World War I museum in Kansas City?

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tags: Kansas City, WWI



“Why is it here?,” says Mike Vietti, director of marketing and communications. “Why not Washington, D.C., or New York?”

The answer is a point of pride in this city. After the war ended, museums and memorials popped up all over the country. In Kansas City, community leaders formed the Liberty Memorial Association in 1919 and in just 10 days raised $2.5 million (about $34 million in today's dollars) to build a memorial. One-quarter of the city’s population donated to the cause.

“It was an extraordinary grassroots crowd-funding effort,” says Matthew Naylor, CEO and president of the museum. “They made the decision they would do more than just honor the lives of Kansas City soldiers, they would tell a much bigger story and collect globally.”

The 217-foot-tall Liberty Memorial was dedicated in 1921. About 100,000 people attended the dedication, as did the five supreme Allied commanders from the U.S., Britain, France, Belgium and Italy. It was the first time those leaders had all been together in one place.





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