National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial – Kansas City

The Liberty Memorial at the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, Missouri.The National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial in Kansas City is the only museum in the U.S, dedicated to understanding World War I.

And why is that important?

Because, if we had understood World War I better, had given some thought to the Treaty of Versailles, maybe there wouldn’t have been WWII. There would probably less friction and conflict in the Middle East today, maybe fewer wars and less suffering in our future.

It’s been more than 100 years now since that global conflict that took nearly 37 million lives. Even though WWI is a complex event, we owe it to our future to understand this part of our past.

Real World Heroes in WWI

Framed wreath of poppies.

Grandpa at the Menin Gate, Ypres Belgium

My Grandpa Eastman was my childhood hero. He bought me Dilly Bars at the Dairy Queen, taught me to love St. Louis Cardinals baseball and invented a game called Fence Across the Road, which was basically his excuse for cuddling with his grandchildren.

My grandpa died when I was 12, but when in high school and college, I came to realize that my grandpa was a real hero — not just mine. Assignments in various history classes required that I write papers about World War I. So I chose my Grandpa Eastman’s service with the 311th Infantry in that “War to End All Wars.”

My sister and I have been fortunate to travel through the battlefields and communities of France and Belgium in an attempt to better grasp the depth of horrors of that war and particularly the trench warfare that defined World War I. As a result, we better understand and love our Grandpa.

Visiting the National World War I Museum

Doughboy sculpture at National World War I Museum in Kansas City.Not everyone had a Grandpa Eastman. There were only 2 million Americans who served overseas during WWI. But that shouldn’t stop you from visiting the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial.

A guide that my sister and I met in France came to visit us in Kansas City and toured the museum. She said it was better than anything available in Europe for documenting those four years of world history.

So as you watch the war unfold in the muddy trenches, hear the bombs explode and see the mustard and chlorine gas ooze through the barbed wires, think of my Grandpa Eastman and the millions of men and women who were called to duty for their countries. It was a long time ago, but they were real people, real heroes.

And look for the brick out front that honors Sgt. Wilbert Eastman of Union County Illinois — my hero.

My grandpas brick at the National WWI Museum Grandpa's service picture at the base of the Natl' World War I Museum in Kansas City

Tip: In 2014, my sister and I traveled to France to visit the battlefields and places we knew our Grandpa had experienced. To follow along on our journey and learn more about World War I, start reading here:

This post contains affiliate links, which means we receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link.

Learn More About the Great War