By Kevin Murphy
KANSAS CITY, Mo (Reuters) - Kansas City, Missouri, has moved a step closer to becoming the official home of the national memorial to World War I and the host of events marking the war's centennial.
The U.S. House Of Representatives approved a resolution on Wednesday that designates the Liberty Memorial monument and adjacent National World War I Museum in Kansas City as the official national memorial to the war.
If the Senate approves similar legislation, as expected, Kansas City will host ceremonies involving the 100th anniversary of the war, which lasted from 1914 to 1918. The United States entered the war in 1917.
Members of Congress from Kansas City met opposition from some interests in Washington who felt the National Mall should get official World War I memorial designation because other major American wars have monuments there. Another idea was to make Pershing Park near the White House a memorial.
In a compromise, the approved resolution allows the World War I Memorial Foundation to establish a commemorative work on federal land in Washington. It could include a sculpture or other elements to serve as the National World War I Memorial, though Kansas City would be the official site.
The decision in Kansas City's favor is "really just recognizing a piece of our history," said Denise Rendina, senior vice president of public affairs and marketing at the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial.
"We have been the de facto memorial for almost 100 years," Rendina said Thursday.
The resolution establishes a centennial commission that will plan anniversary events in Kansas City to commemorate the war's anniversary.
Nearly $5 million is being spent to upgrade the Liberty Memorial, a stone, cylindrical tower rising 217 feet atop a hill overlooking Kansas City, in time for the anniversary. It was dedicated in 1926.
(Reporting by Kevin Murphy; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Stacey Joyce)