Reliving history

College plans for opening of memorial
Thursday, November 17, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 8:34 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

FULTON — Westminster College will mark the 60th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s famous “Iron Curtain” speech in the school’s gymnasium by replicating President Harry Truman and Churchill’s experience in Fulton.

Events planned for March 3 to 5 will include the re-opening of the Winston Churchill Memorial and Library after its $4 million renovation, said college President Fletcher Lamkin at a news conference on Wednesday in the Historic Westminster Gymnasium.

Churchill’s youngest daughter, Lady Mary Soames, and granddaughter Edwina Sandys are scheduled to attend.

The plans for the weekend include a motorcade replicating the experience of Truman and Churchill, including their luncheon menu of “famous Callaway country ham and fried chicken” and a church service on campus at the Church of St. Mary Aldermanbury, which was moved from London and reassembled in Fulton to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Churchill’s visit.

“I’m really glad that we get to be a part of it,” said Westminster senior Laura Patty, an English and communications major. “It’s definitely making me appreciate and learn more about Winston Churchill in general. I’m looking forward to learning more.”

The renovated Winston Churchill Memorial Museum and Library will incorporate technology to be more interactive.

“Our new exhibition will bring Churchill more alive through the innovative use of sound and sight,” said Rob Havers, executive director of the Churchill Memorial. “Audio and visual programs will show what it was like to be in London during the blitz or a trench in the First World War.”

This should attract more visitors to the museum, which now attracts 12,000 to 16,000 people each year, Havers said.

“We hope to at least double that,” he said.

To offset some of the renovation costs, Bruce Harris, president and chief executive officer of The Callaway Bank, issued a $100,000 gift challenge to the community as part of the Callaway Campaign to raise $300,000. Once the bank has received $200,000 in donations from mid-Missouri citizens, businesses and organizations, it will donate the remaining $100,000.

Since Churchill’s address, Westminster College has been internationally recognized for hosting major world leaders, including Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, President Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Churchill, at the time of his speech, had completed one term as prime minister and would serve again later in his career.

The March celebration will also draw national and international dignitaries and scholars to mid-Missouri, Lamkin said — but he wouldn’t say who yet.

“Appearances by those individuals we have been in contact with are not confirmed,” he said, “and any premature announcement would jeopardize those discussions.”

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