The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

July 12, 2013

Dave Woods: Kansas City museum reveals Great War

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When most people drive past the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, I suspect they have no idea what lies beneath the massive, granite structures. I didn’t until a recent K.C. trip. It’s hard to miss the 200-plus tall granite tower perched atop one of the city’s highest hills. A pair of large stone Sphinx, wings covering their eyes from the horrors of war, anchor the tower to the site erected almost a century ago. The museum and memorial overlook downtown, Union Station and much of the city. It honors veterans of the Great War.

Spending a few hours at a museum dedicated to a war I knew little about was, at first,  a hard sell for me. But, I was lucky. I had David Holmquist to guide me through the museum. He volunteers there and helps tell the tale of “The War to End all Wars.”

While I was riffling through a box of old military memorabilia a few weeks later my interest in World War I changed.

Following my grandfather‘s death, I ended up with a stack of his military memorabilia.

For almost a year it had been setting on my catch-all kitchen counter unopened. For some reason I opted to dig into the mound of medals, uniform buttons and military papers and manuals from World War II. It was seemingly worthless stuff to me. Little real value to collectors, but it meant something to him. Inside were keepsakes important to my grandfather.

 In 1944, and at a very young age, he leapt from a perfectly good airplane into the Battle of the Bulge. He took enemy fire, lost much of his parachute, took shrapnel in his leg and lived to tell about. He went on to be the best Pop a guy – that me, my brothers and great grandkids — could ever have.

I knew of his service to our country, but he never mentioned his father’s service during the Great War, at least, not to me. What could be in that box that meant enough for him to him to keep it all of those years?

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