We all have ways to measure whether things are up or down in our own little worlds.
Kansas City is just about out of local bookstores. Downtown Blue Springs recently lost a good one. I find myself making the trip to Prospero’s, clear over in the gaudy shadow of KU Med, just to find a treasure or two and support a good thing – a singularly good thing – we still have.
Just five years ago we had, by my count, about 20 movie screens on which you could find something more adventurous than the latest regurgitation of a franchise three movies past its expiration date. We’re down to half of that now – crucially, we lost the Tivoli last spring – and nationwide the whole movie-going experience seems to be in peril.
And another Strouds has closed. Food isn’t everything, but at least this is something local, something not spit out of the corporate template. It’s a Kansas City thing.
So I say don’t take things for granted. Look around, value what we have – and go use it.
I was thinking of this as I listened the other day to a brief talk by Matthew Naylor, president and CEO of the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City. His job is to help tell the story of that war – “the founding catastrophe of the 20th century,” as he puts it.
“We live in the shadow of the war,” he said. “There’s not a day that we wake up that we don’t deal with the consequences of World War I.”
That story is told here in the museum that opened at Liberty Memorial in 2006. Remember that it was Kansas City that raised $2.5 million in 10 days – no small feat – in 1919 to build the memorial in the first place. It’s a national monument, and we have it. It’s a first-rate museum, and we have it.
“This is really a conversation about the heartland,” Naylor said. He adds the memorial itself offers the best view of the city – he’s right – sitting on 47 acres with a simple, understated beauty.
“I like to call it the Washington Mall of the Midwest,” he said.
So what’s up next? Even the Vietnam War has some of its roots in decisions coming out of World War I. The museum will have an exhibit on the Vietnam War from Veterans Day weekend until Memorial Day weekend next spring. The 80 percent size traveling Vietnam Wall will be there. I’ve seen it. It’s moving.
So maybe put that on the calendar. And do the World War I stuff too. We have this here. Don’t take things for granted.
Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s editor. Reach him at 816-350-6365 or email@example.com. He’s on Twitter at @FoxEJC.