The highlights have been varied over the past decade plus as Dr. Bruce Longest and I have continued our quest to check off visits to every NFL city, and it hasn’t always been the Sunday afternoon game.
There was the history and tradition of Lambeau Field on our inaugural trip to Green Bay. We’ve waved terrible towels in Pittsburgh, eaten at San Francisco’s finest restaurant – Gary Danko, enjoyed coffee from the original Starbucks in Seattle, watched the sun set behind the “Hollywood” sign from atop the L.A. Coliseum, taken in a homecoming parade at Arizona State, lit a cigar at Ditka’s in Chicago, attended an Army-Navy game in Washington, D.C. and worn horns and blonde pigtails with the rest of the purple horde in Minneapolis just to name a few memories.
We chose Kansas City for our tenth annual trip and it wasn’t the hometown Chiefs’ rout of the New York Jets or the many fine restaurants we visited that was most memorable. It was our Saturday afternoon visit to the National World War I Museum.
The original and still stunning museum buildings, including the 217-foot tall Liberty Memorial Tower, were constructed in 1926 only eight years after the war in the heart of downtown Kansas City. We made the trip to the top of the tower inside the small-cage elevator, and the last story up a skinny, spiral staircase for the most breathtaking view of the city.
The interior museum exhibits, including a 1917 original Harley Davidson motorcycle ridden in the war, were the most amazing to me. The museum is laid out in a circle around the tower in chronological order and filled with amazing artifacts, short films, and histories.
One of the displays featuring interesting facts included that one of every three Frenchmen between the ages of 18-30 had died by 1917 in the war.
Another display showed the number of soldiers from every state. Mississippi sat right in the middle with the 25th most participating in the war at 54,295. New York and Pennsylvania had the most – each over 300,000.
The moving tributes to the more than nine million people who died in the “Great War” and the first hand accounts of survivors moved us beyond words.
One display caught my eye because it said so much about a war most of us aren’t as familiar with due to World War II – “The Great War (It didn’t become known as World War I until after World War II) was without precedent … never had so many nations taken up arms at a single time. Never had the battlefield been so vast… never had the fighting been so gruesome…”
World War I lasted 1,500 days, saw more than nine million people die on the battlefield and changed the world forever.
I’m thankful for the opportunity to see so much of its history in a beautifully-done museum in Kansas City.