Seventy-five years ago, Fulton was in a tizzy preparing for the visit of a major world leader and statesman.
When Winston Churchill stepped on to the Westminster College campus on March 5, 1946, few would have anticipated the former British prime minister would give one of the most famous speeches of the period.
Now, the National Churchill Museum is preparing to mark the anniversary of its claim to fame.
On March 5, the museum will livestream proceedings including a keynote address from Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist George Will and a discussion between two grandchildren of Churchill and former President Harry Truman; Edwina Sandys and Clifton Truman Daniels.
Also available to the public will be the premiere of "Franta and Winston," a documentary about the National Churchill Museum's sculpture of Churchill and the debut of a new virtual exhibition from the museum.
In 1945, Churchill was invited to Fulton by then-president of Westminster College Franc L. McCluer and Truman. Truman and Churchill traveled together by train to Jefferson City, and then were driven to Fulton by car.
During his hour-long "Sinews of Peace" speech, students and Fulton residents gathered in the Westminster College Gymnasium, witnessing the moment when Churchill warned of the spread of communism and the threat of the Soviet Union influence in Europe.
"From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent," Churchill said.
Only six months after the end of World War II, the Cold War was brewing.
"Our difficulties and dangers will not be removed by closing our eyes to them," Churchill said. "They will not be removed by mere waiting to see what happens; nor will they be removed by a policy of appeasement."
More than 15,000 people requested tickets to the 1946 event, but only 2,800 seats were available in the college gymnasium intended to hold 500. Many listened to speech live over speakers in other campus locations.
After the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall more than four decades later, a piece of the wall was made into a sculpture by Sandys and placed on the Westminster campus.
All events will be available online. The ceremonies will begin 10 a.m. March 5 and conclude March 6.
- At 10 a.m. March 5, Sandys and Daniels will discuss the Churchill-Truman legacy from the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library in Independence. The discussion will be livestreamed.
- At 11 a.m. March 5, Churchill fellow Dr. Monroe E. Trout will be awarded the Winston Churchill Medal for Leadership by the National Churchill Museum.
- At noon March 5, Will is set to deliver the Enid and R. Crosby Kemper Lecture, titled "Churchillian Realism."
- From 2-3 p.m. March 5, a panel discussion titled "Churchill Today" will be livestreamed focusing on the importance of Churchill and the special relationship between the U.S. and the U.K. hosted by NCM Chief Curator Timothy Riley.
- From 3-3:30 p.m. March 5, the "Franta and Winston" documentary will premiere.
- At 3:30 p.m. March 5, Riley and Westminster students will debut "Sinews of Peace: The Power of Prose," a new virtual museum exhibition examining the speech.
- At 11 a.m. March 6, the NCM Board of Governors will induct eight individuals into the Society of Churchill Fellows — JM Family Enterprises, Inc. board chair Colin Brown, retired U.S. Navy Vice Admiral and first commanding officer of the USS Winston S. Churchill Michael T. Franken, Alitus Partners founder and managing partner Keith S. Harbison, retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Richard C. Harding, author Erik Larson, U.S. Circuit Judge Michael Y. Scudder, author Cita Stelzer, and keynote speaker and Washington Post columnist George Will.
Also throughout March 5, informative videos and live commentary will be available featuring British ambassador Karen Pierce, Churchill biographer Andrew Roberts, author Catherine Katz, retired U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus, MTV Network International founder William "Bill" Roedy, Churchill's great-grandson Randolph Churchill and University of Cambridge Churchill Archives Centre Director Allen Packwood.
The virtual ceremonies are free and open to the public. To attend, register at www.nationalchurchillmuseum.org/03-05-21-75thsinews.html.