Monumental Devotion: The McKinley National Memorial
The PBS Western Reserve documentary MONUMENTAL DEVOTION: THE MCKINLEY NATIONAL MEMORIAL tells of the public’s admiration of President William McKinley, plus his loving relationship with his wife. It centers on McKinley’s life as president and, ultimately, the construction of a monument in Canton, Ohio, for his final resting place.
The documentary introduces the human side of McKinley, a Civil War veteran and attorney who married the love of his life, the highly educated and gifted Ida McKinley. Together the couple endured the tragic loss of two young daughters and the challenges of Ida’s serious illnesses.
It is difficult to imagine the immense sadness that gripped the world when the popular president was shot in Buffalo, New York, on Sept. 6, 1901, and later died. The way to see it today is through the fruit of that tragedy: a strikingly beautiful monument, built with funds ranging from the penny donations of school children to the gifts of industrialists and nations around the world.
Throughout the production, we see evidence of devotion to President McKinley. One striking place is in the reported gratitude of some of the memorial workers—former slaves who wanted to contribute to the legacy of a president who fought for the North and opened the military to Black soldiers in the Spanish-American War. We can appreciate the workers’ efforts as we explore a part of the monument the public never sees: the formidable steps between the inner and outer domes that lead to a breathtaking view of Canton.
Photo credit: McKinley Presidential Library & Museum Canton, Ohio.