I have a few mementos from a trip to London, but they all pale in comparison to the one that stands in Fulton, Mo.
“An iron curtain has descended across the continent.” That one phrase from Winston Churchill thrust Westminster College in Fulton into the limelight.
It was May 5, 1946, and Churchill was delivering an address known as “Sinews of Peace” at the mid-Missouri college. With then President Harry Truman in attendance, the former British Prime Minister used the “iron curtain” to describe the separation of Eastern Europe that was under Soviet rule. He spoke of difficulties of war and the need for peace.
It was a momentous day in history, and the college wanted people to remember. So, in the 1960s, it set out to establish a museum. Supporters of Westminster went big and bold. To pay homage to Churchill, they decided to bring the St. Mary the Virgin Aldermanbury church in London to Missouri. The church stood in England since 1677 but was damaged during the London Blitz.
Rather than allowing it to be demolished or fall into further ruin, college officials asked to move it stone by stone to the Westminster campus, where it was rebuilt to the original design. Beneath it, the National Churchill Museum was created.
IRON CURTAIN: On May 13, 2011, a new sculpture titled “Iron Curtain” was unveiled in front of the National Churchill Museum. While Churchill sculptures and statues are many around the world, none capture the “Iron Curtain” address and certainly few capture Churchill the man in quite a dramatic form like this one from sculptor Don Wiegand.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the National Churchill Museum, which opened May 7, 1969.
The museum contains a collection of more than 10,000 objects. Even before the official opening, members of the Churchill family and the collectors around the world offered donations. The displays bring to life the story of Churchill and the world he knew.
For the 50th year celebration, Prince Charles sent a letter noting the occasion where he wrote the museum was a “remarkable and highly appropriate memorial” for the famous speech.
A visit to the National Churchill Memorial brings a little London to the Midwest. And feel free to stop by the gift shop to grab your own small memento.