When the Armistice signed
in Compiègne went into effect on November 11, 1918, the world entered a new era.
World War I was effectively over (although fighting continued in Africa for several weeks and in Russia and Turkey for several years.) The "War to End All Wars" gave way to peace, a peace the world thought would last given the unprecedented devastation wrought by WWI.
Communities around the world rallied to memorialize those who contributed to the war effort, including Kansas City.
With a massive crowd-funded campaign, the city raised more than two million dollars in 1919 and set out to create what would become one of the largest and well-renowned memorials of World War I, quickly garnering international attention.
The city's efforts were honored in 1921, when the commanders of five Allied nations of WWI gathered in Kansas City.
They came on Nov. 1, 1921 for the site dedication of the planned Liberty Memorial (now known as the National WWI Museum and Memorial) and for the American Legion convention in the city. Present were Gen. Jules Marie Alphonse Jacques of Belgium, Gen. Armando Diaz of Italy, Marshal Ferdinand Foch of France, Gen. John J. Pershing of the United States and Adm. David Beatty of Great Britain. It was the first time in history that all five were together.
Allied Commanders at the Liberty Memorial Site Dedication (1921-11-01)National WWI Museum and Memorial
Film from November, 1921. (No Sound)
A crowd of more than 100,000 was present.
The city turned out for the dedication. In addition to the commanders, in attendance were R.A. Long, J.C. Nichols, Major General John A. Lejeune, Major George C. Marshall, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, as well as future U.S. Presidents Calvin Coolidge and Harry S. Truman.
“Out of the fullness of heart of the Italian people, I came
to America to express in person the gratitude that the whole people feel. Also,
I came to see the people of my native country living here, who furnished many
of the battle fields that were washed in blood.”
- Gen. Armando Diaz, speaking in Italian at the dedication ceremony.
“The dead we honor here made the noble sacrifice for a cause
that should not be forgotten. I congratulate Kansas City and its citizens on
the erection of this monument to a memory that they must always cherish and
which never shall be forgotten.”
- Marshal Ferdinand Foch, speaking at the dedication ceremony, translated from French.
“I am deeply impressed by the size and grandeur of this
ceremony. I am impressed further by the spirit and hearts of this vast
community. It is yet almost inconceivable that these brave boys from Kansas
City had to travel so far to come to the aid of our Belgium and our allies. Belgium
is, indeed, proud to salute your brave living and dead today.”
- Gen. Jules Marie Alphonse Jacques of Belgium, translated into English.
The dedication ceremony was an auspicious event for the Memorial.
Construction was completed in 1926, with the Liberty Memorial becoming an iconic Kansas City landmark.
Twenty-six years later, a mural was commissioned of the Dedication.
Completed in 1950 by painter Daniel MacMorris, it is still on view in Memory Hall at the National WWI Museum and Memorial.
Curator of Education: Lora Vogt
Digital Content Manager: Liesl Christman
Senior Curator: Doran Cart
Registrar: Stacie Petersen
Director, Archives and Edward Jones Research Center: Jonathan Casey
Made possible in part by the generous support of the William T. Kemper Foundation, the Regnier Family Foundation and the David T. Beals, III Charitable Trust.