Today we went on a field trip to a really neat museum. It is called the Soldier’s Memorial Military Museum and it’s located on Chestnut in downtown St. Louis. It is not a large museum, but I thought it was really incredible – and a beautiful labor of love to honor the men and women of St. Louis who gave their life in service to their country.
Soldier’s Memorial Military Museum
The idea was born to create a memorial for the sons and daughters who had “made the supreme sacrifice in the World War” in 1923 and over the next 12 years the city and the citizens of St. Louis raised funds for the project. The project began in 1935 and completed in 1938 with a beautiful building, memorial plaza, and surrounding parks. In 1936, Franklin Delano Roosevelt came to St. Louis to dedicate the building with these words:
“…Here will rise a fitting structure—a symbol of devoted patriotism and unselfish service. We in America do not build monuments to war: we do not build monuments to conquests; we build monuments to commemorate the spirit of sacrifice in war—reminders of our desire for peace. The memory of those, whom the war called to the Beyond, urges us to consecrate the best that is in us to the service of country in times of peace. We best honor the memory of those dead by striving for Peace, that the terror of the days of war will be with us no more. May the beauty of this monument, which will rise on this site, cast a beneficent light on the memories of our comrades, may a substantial structure typify the strength of their purpose, and may it inspire future generations with a desire to be of service to their fellows and their country.”
The museum opened on Memorial Day in 1938.
“This magnificent edifice, erected as a perpetual reminder of the valor and sacrifice that has enabled America to live, will spur us on as a people to make America greater. We, who live, because others have died, should make of this shrine a place of love and a monument of peace.”
- Mayor Bernard F. Dickmann, May 30, 1938
There are two museum rooms and they are filled with photographs and memorabilia telling the stories of those who served and gave their lives for the cause of freedom and democracy. My kids (11 and almost 13) took a quick look at all the stuff and then sat around being bored, ready to go. I admit when we first got there I thought – is this it? But when I stopped to really take a look and read the stories, I saw a treasure – a labor of love and gratitude for the loved ones who were lost in battle – and the desire to honor their memory and not let them be forgotten. They were not the only ones to make the supreme sacrifice – but their families as well – from the Civil War through the current conflicts.
A few things I learned:
St. Louis lost 1075 men and women in World War I and 2735 in World War II.
The museum is home to three Medals of Honor.
I had never heard of the American Gold Star Mothers. These are mother’s who have lost a son or daughter in service to country. The first flag raised at the Soldier’s Memorial Military Museum was given by FDR and raised by the president of the Gold Star Mothers. The have a really lovely display dedicated to these women. My heart goes out to every one of them. I didn’t lose a child in combat or in service to country – but I do know what it is like to lose a child. When Tom and I married, he had two daughters from a previous marriage. Emily and Angela were 3 and 2 and though they lived with their mom, we spent as much time as we could with them while they were growing up and talked to them every week. I love the both so very much – like my own kids. Emily died three years ago October 23rd and would have been 21 on November 5th.
Emily, Tom, Me, and Angela on April 6, 1996
Emily & Angela
Veteran’s Day is Monday, November 12th and there is a Veteran’s Day parade at noon on Saturday, November 10th downtown St. Louis. For more information, you can visit the Soldiers’ Memorial Military Museum website.
Emily’s Birthday is Monday, November 5th. We all love and miss you, Emily!
After the museum, my mother-in-law, Barbara, took us to McGurk’s Irish Pub for lunch. The really neat thing, and on topic with my title, is that there is a little house right next to and owned by the Pub. This is where Barbara lived when she was a little girl. She rode her bike up and down the street and in the alley, went to school for a while at the Catholic school across the street, etc. It was really neat to see! Now I guess musicians stay here when they play McGurks.
We had a really yummy lunch and then took a walk over at Soulard Market. It was a really nice day out!
Anyway… That’s all I have for now. It is late and we are going out tomorrow so I’d better get some sleep!
Have a nice weekend!