100 years on, World War One resonates at Kansas City museum

Thu Jul 24, 2014 2:59pm EDT
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By Kevin Murphy

KANSAS CITY Mo. (Reuters) - As far as Joan Barkley Wells is concerned, there isn't much reason for calling World War One a forgotten war.

    Her late father, World War One veteran John Lewis Barkley, received the Medal of Honor - America's highest military award - for valor. It is on display along with his portrait at the National World War I Museum in Kansas City.

    Congress selected Kansas City in 2004 as the venue for the official national museum for the war on a site already occupied by the 217-foot tall (66 meters) Liberty Memorial war monument, completed in 1926 on a bluff above the city skyline.

    The 100th anniversary this summer of the start of the war is bringing more attention to the museum and the war itself, which Wells feels is overshadowed by World War Two despite the earlier war's lasting significance.

    "They are still arguing in some countries about the same things they were arguing about 100 years ago," said Wells, who is 75.

    Some empires crumbled, others rose and boundaries were reshaped in the Middle East and the Balkans by the war that ensnared 36 countries, setting up a century of territorial conflicts and establishing the United States as a global power.

    The war gave independence to Poland and several Russian territories. It left a defeated Germany humiliated, sowing the seeds for the rise of the Nazis that fueled World War Two.

    "We live with the impact of 'The Great War' every day," said Matthew Naylor, president and chief executive of the museum. "There are political issues that are front and center of our experience right now, particularly in the Middle East."   Continued...

A full-scale depiction of "No Man's Land" is shown at the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri, in this image released on July 11, 2014.  REUTERS/National World War 1 Museum at Liberty Memorial/Handout via Reuters