3 pieces of history you can't miss at the WWI Museum and Memorial in KC

Posted at 5:20 PM, Apr 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-06 13:35:58-04

The National World War I Museum and Memorial has been collecting WWI history for almost a century, and the collection is still growing.

With the eyes of the nation and world on Kansas City as thousands come to commemorate the United States entering the war 100 years ago, we asked what three pieces inside the museum can’t be missed. CEO Matthew Naylor told us those three stories.

WWI Tank

This tank that was used during WWI in the battlefields of France is one of only three that remain. With wooden wheels and thin steel, Naylor said, “World War I represents the mechanization of war.”  

A tank from World War I

Remarkably, when the tank came to the museum, they actually found the names of mechanics from Kansas City written on the inside. Naylor said it was traditional for mechanics who worked on tanks to leave their names.

American Flag from 1917

“It was on April 2, 1917 that President Woodrow Wilson went to the Congress to ask for a proclamation of war. That was debated and voted on on the sixth, and this was the flag that flew over the Capitol when that vote was taken,” said Naylor. ”So we're honored to have it here and be preserving it for the nation's memory.”

American flag from 1917

One Soldier, Two Uniforms

"It is one soldier under two flags, having served in the German army and then in the American army,” said Naylor. “It really is quite an extraordinary story and you won't see this anywhere else in the world, just here in Kansas City at the National World War I Museum and Memorial.”

The museum has his German uniform that he wore up until about 1916 and a photograph of him wearing that uniform.

An American and a German uniform from World War I

“He left the army, escaped and made his way to the United States and joined his brother in Connecticut,” said Naylor. “Then he was drafted when the U.S. entered the war in 1917 and then he went back to fight against the Germans wearing this uniform.”