When seeking out monuments and memorials to World War I, one might not immediately think of stained glass windows.  But they are out there, and they may be among the more endangered memorials.  Many could be in churches, as a tribute to either those members of the congregation who served, or to individuals who served and / or made the supreme sacrifice.

The danger comes with aging buildings, which may be torn down, or be lost due to fires, tornadoes, or vandalism.

If you know of a stained glass window that is a memorial to World War I soldiers, PLEASE let us know or otherwise get in touch with us.

I’ll also make a pitch for learning about Civil War or Spanish-American War tributes in stained glass.  For Civil War windows, you may see references to the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.); Sons of Veterans or Sons of Union Veterans (S.V., S.U.V.); Daughters of Union Veterans (D.U.V.); Women’s Relief Corps (W.R.C.); or Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic (L.G.A.R.)


"The Young Crusader," First United Methodist Church, Topeka, KS.

“The Young Crusader,” First United Methodist Church, Topeka, KS.

One magnificent tribute can be found in the sanctuary of the First United Methodist Church in Topeka, entitled, “The Young Crusader.”  The window was dedicated on November 25, 1923 to the 93 men of the congregation who served in World War I.  Five of the 93 gave their lives.

The description of this window is from a 1979 church publication, For Light to Those Who Seek the Way, by Margaret Tillotson Ragsdale:

“Centered in the five-light panel, a proud young Louis IX of France rides his plumed white horse into Jerusalem.  Fleurs-de-lis embellish the silver armor and golden crown.  Crimson robe and ermine cape are thrown back from his shoulders, revealing a sword hung at his left side and a sceptre carried in his right hand.  Armored foot soldiers precede the king while horsemen follow through the city gate.  A garlanded woman dressed in red holds a basket of roses–emblems of victory, martyrdom, and purity–and other women clothed in green, gold, blue, and purple scatter roses before the conquering warriors.  Lances, pennants, draperies, and a blue standard bearing a shining gold six-pointed star contrast brilliant hues against the muted tones of stonework.  Although the viewer’s attention is drawn to the king, he is looking at the crucified Christ, a monochromatic ochre figure crowned with thorns–a shade, a vision, and a purpose for the invading army.  Above the martial scene, perpendicular-style mullions break into tracery jeweled with green and brown leaves, blue and purple interstices, the whole surmounted by palm branches of victory.”

It is further stated:

“In stained glass history and in social history, however, the window illuminates its time.  It compares the World War I crusade to save the world for democracy to the medieval crusade to rescue the Holy Land for Christendom.  It glorifies the Christian soldier for his commitment to the side of the right, and therefore to the side of God.  It honors ‘freemen who stand between their loved homes and the war’s desolation.’

The window was created by Jacoby Art Glass of St. Louis and its dedication reads:  “IN GRATEFUL RECOGNITION OF THE SERVICE AND SACRIFICE OF THE MEN OF THIS CHURCH IN THE WORLD WAR 1914-1918.”


Blair Tarr is the Museum Curator of the Kansas State Historical Society. He oversees the three-dimensional collections of the Society, but has special interests in the Civil War, Wichita-made Valentine diners, and Leavenworth's Abernathy Furniture. In the last few years he has also done a lot of cramming on The Great War. He is a past president of the Kansas Museums Association and the Civil War Round Tables of both Kansas City and Eastern Kansas. He is currently a board member of the Heritage League of Greater Kansas City.