Monday, November 12, 2018

Soldiers Memorial Military Museum

The Soldiers Memorial Military Museum in downtown St. Louis honors local military service members and veterans. The monument originally honored those who died during World War I. It opened on Memorial Day in 1938, and was operated by the City until 2015, when the Missouri Historical Society assumed control. They closed the building for major renovation, and it's reopened just in time for the centennial of the armistice that ended World War I. There was a big celebration over the weekend, but Hubby Tony was off work today and we decided to take a field trip to see the updates.

Soldiers Memorial Military Museum
We arrived twenty minutes before the flag raising ceremony at 10:00 AM, and spent the time wandering through the updated Court of Honor, which was dedicated as the city’s WWII memorial in 1948. Previously, the area was across a large street and neither Tony or I remember noticing it before. Now, in addition to the Memorial Walls for World War II, Korea, and Viet Nam there is a reflecting pool and fountain (both turned off because of the cold weather), and flag poles flying the flags of each branch of service. There is a large landscaped area, and an anchor from the USS Langley. The street between the Court of Honor and the Memorial has been narrowed, which makes it easy to walk between the two.

It was a cold, cloudy morning, but at 10 AM there were about two dozen people waiting to watch the flag raising ceremony. Once that was over everyone walked up the stairs and into the impressive art deco building.

The memorial is designed with large stairways on the north and south sides, flanked by huge stone sculptures-Courage and Vision on the south side, and Loyalty and Sacrifice on the north. At the top is a large loggia holding a black granite cenotaph that has the names of the 1,075 St. Louis soldiers who perished during World War I carved into its sides. Above, there is a deep red Gold Star Mothers mosaic ceiling, and there are display rooms on the east and west sides of the loggia.

The last time I was at the Soldiers Memorial was in the early 2000s. At that time the building was dark and drafty, and I thought the exhibits looked tired. Now everything has been renovated and updated. The two rooms on the main level have displays which tell the stories of St. Louisans in wartime from the American Revolution to today. The lower level (which was not open to the public previously) had a large temporary exhibit called World War I: St. Louis and the Great War

Tony and I spent about 90 minutes at the memorial. When our stomachs started telling us it was time for lunch we decided to leave.  As we walked back to the car we agreed we needed to come back again.

Five years ago today: Calendar Coincidence