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VFW Magazine April 2017 : Page 13

the Great War ChanGed ameriCa: broader freedoms and a neW era in Women’s and CiviL riGhts. ameriCa Was thrust onto the GLobaL staGe, transformed into a miLitary and industriaL poWer. the War ushered in a Century of profound soCiaL and eConomiC ChanGe. manders dedicate the site. Construction on the classical Egyptian Revival-style monument was completed in 1926 and was dedicated by President Calvin Coolidge in front of more than 150,000 people — the largest crowd a U.S. pres-ident had ever addressed. The facility — then called the Liberty Memorial — stood as one of the largest war memo-rials in the world, featuring a 217-foot tower, two exhibition halls and symbol-ic architectural features, including a pair of large Assyrian sphinxes and a 148-foot by 18-foot stone-carved frieze that rep-resents the progression of mankind from war to peace. Beginning in 1998, Kansas Citians raised more than $102 million for res-toration and expansion of the museum to better showcase the WWI-related objects and documents the organization had been collecting since 1920. In 2004, the museum was designated by Congress as the nation’s official World War I museum, and construction start-ed on a new 80,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art museum and research center. The expanded National World War I Museum and Memorial opened in 2006 to national acclaim. In 2014, the museum and memorial received a second designa-tion from Congress, effectively recogniz-ing the museum and Liberty Memorial as the National World War I Museum and Memorial. Today, the museum maintains the most comprehensive collection of World War I objects and documents in the world and operates as a non-profit orga-nization dedicated to remembering and interpreting the Great War and its endur-ing impact on the global community. Named one of the top 25 muse-ums in the United States by Yelp and TripAdvisor, the museum’s galleries include artifacts such as a battle-scarred Renault FT-17 tank and the largest remaining section of the Panthéon de la Guerre — at one time the largest painting in the world, measuring 402 feet long by 45 feet tall. The museum features mas-sive artillery pieces, weapons and per-sonal objects, as interactive displays for people of all ages; reflection rooms where guests can listen to music, poet-ry and speeches from the era; and recre-ations of trenches from the battle lines of the war. CommemoratinG the WorLd War i CentenniaL With a diverse collection featuring objects and documents from dozens of countries, the museum shares the glob-al story of the Great War. Since 2013, the museum has curated its own special exhi-bitions highlighting what transpired in photo couRteSy oFnational WWi MuSeuM and MeMoRial ABOVE: A photograph of the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Mo., by Duane Hallock, dedicated to World War I. The U.S. joined World War I by declaring war on Germany on April 6, 1917. To commemorate this event, the museum will host a special ceremony on April 6 in partnership with the United States World War One Centennial Commission. RIGHT: The World War I Museum in Kansas City, Mo., will host several exhibits this year, the first of which opened in March. Right is a poster reminiscent of the time entitled, Shall We Be More Tender with Our Dollars Than with the Lives of Our Sons , by artist Dan Sayre Groesbeck, advertising government bonds during the U.S. 2nd Liberty Loan Drive in 1917. APRIL 2017   • WWW.VFW.ORG • 13

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