American Legion Memorial II
On October 30, 1921, the American Legion Memorial II was dedicated during a multi-day celebration hosted by the American Legion 3rd National Convention. The American Legion Memorial Fountain and the site of Liberty Memorial were also dedicated during this time. This large marble monument was designed by architect G.B. Franklin and sculpted by Robert Merrell Gage. As depicted in its bas relief bronze panel, the memorial commemorates American soldiers serving in France during World War I.
The American Legion Memorial II honors American soldiers serving in France during WWI.
An early photo of the American Legion Memorial Fountain II at Swope Park. Photo courtesy of Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library.
A detailed view of the bronze bas relief plaque depicting American Soldiers entering a distraught French village.
A crowd surrounding the parade put on by the American Legion 3rd National Convention. Photo courtesy of Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library.
Backstory and Context
The American Legion was established by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization devoted to serving veterans, servicemembers, and communities. It became one of the most influential nonprofit groups in the country, shaping social change and procuring benefits for veterans. The Legion is organized into 55 departments, one in each of the 50 states, along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, France, Mexico and the Philippines. Today, there are nearly 2 million members serving at more than 13,000 posts.
The American Legion held its third national convention in Kansas City from October 31 to November 12, 1921. A multi-day celebration took place from October 30 to November 2 in which a parade was held downtown, along with the dedications of the proposed Liberty Memorial, the American Legion Memorial Fountain and the American Legion Memorial II.
Designed by architect G.B. Franklin and sculpted by Robert Merrell Gage, the American Legion Memorial II is an 8 foot by 12 foot monument made of Tennessee marble. It commemorates American soldiers serving in France during World War, as depicted in the 2 ½ by 6 foot bas relief bronze panel, in which 22 American soldiers enter a French village with wounded soldiers and refugees. The basin of the original drinking fountain is still visible below the bronze, but is no longer functioning. An inscription is carved across the top of the monument and reads Dedicated by Kansas City to the American Legion Posts. It was dedicated on October 30, 1921. The memorial was draped in an American flag and unveiled by sixteen uniformed legionnaires, along with a presentation given by Kansas City Alderman George Harrington. The national chaplain of the legion John W. Inzer gave the dedication address.
American Legion Memorial 2, Kansas City Parks and Recreation. Accessed February 22nd 2022. https://kcparks.org/places/american-legion-memorial-ii-2/.
History, American Legion. Accessed February 22nd 2022. https://www.legion.org/history.
American Legion. The American Legion 3rd National Convention: official program , Internet Archive. Accessed February 22nd 2022. https://ia801300.us.archive.org/13/items/americanlegion3r00amer/americanlegion3r00amer.pdf.