Coordination of the national observance of the centennial of the First World War would be anchored at the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City under a resolution passed Wednesday by the U.S. House of Representatives.
The measure also designates the local monument as the official “National World War I Museum and Memorial.” It still must pass the Senate, but it has bipartisan support there.
“We are hopeful that it will quickly go to the Senate and be passed by the end of the year so this important legislation will be completed,” said Denise Rendina, senior vice president of public affairs and marketing for the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial.
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Kansas City told the House it was important not to let the centennial fall victim to “partisan bickering” in Congress.
The House resolution is a compromise between the Liberty Memorial and other interests that wanted to designate a national memorial to the Great War in Washington D.C. The bill allows those interests to also establish a national memorial to the war there.
The centennial commission would meet initially and regularly at the Liberty Memorial. The resolution does not commit any federal funds for its operation.
The museum here has the largest collection of World War I material in the country. It is already working on plans to commemorate the 1914-1918 war, which the United States entered in 1917. A planning conference with representatives from around the world is scheduled here in March. Rendina said she is hopeful the centennial commission will be in place by then and its members can attend.
“North Missouri has deep ties to World War I,” U.S. Rep. Sam Graves said in a statement. “From ‘Black Jack’ Pershing to Frank Buckles, the Sixth Congressional District was home to thousands of men who served their country admirably. I’m glad that the World War I Centennial will bring people from all over the world to Missouri.”
Pershing was commander of the American Expeditionary Force. Buckles was a Missouri native and the last living U.S. veteran of the war.
Cleaver’s remarks can be viewed atC-SpanVideo.org.