Dean Dohrman l Capitol Report l September 19, 2013
One of our most interesting tourist destinations in mid-Missouri is Fulton, home to the Churchill Memorial. It is now known as the National Churchill Museum.
The story began in 1946 when Winston Churchill, the wartime prime minister of Britain, visited the campus and gave his description of a divided Europe. His "iron curtain" speech gave birth to one of the most famous phrases of the Cold War. The memorial began in 1960 when the commemoration committee decided to move St. Mary's church from London to cover the museum where Churchill material would be housed.
The memorial has three separate parts: the museum, the church, and the Berlin Wall monument. The museum is the largest collection of Churchill documents outside of Britain. It contains an excellent visual history of the life of Churchill and a great gift shop. The church was the design of Christopher Wren, heavily damaged by World War II bombing, and disassembled and reassembled in Fulton. The wall, the living symbol of a divided Europe for nearly 30 years, is a tribute to the prime minister's description of the postwar continent. "Behind the iron curtain" became an utterance of despair for Western Europe and the U.S. The Berlin Wall stood as a truly physical barrier to illustrate that iron curtain.
President Harry Truman escorted the prime minister by train. Along the route from Washington, D.C., the two chatted, played cards, ate, and shared a few drinks. The residents of Fulton enthusiastically greeted the two when they arrived. On March 5, 1946, Churchill gave his famous speech to a packed gymnasium.
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“Leave the past to history especially as I propose to write that history myself.”