KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A sea of red poppies will light up the north frieze and Liberty Memorial Tower at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City beginning at 7 p.m. today.
The illuminative exhibit will last the nine nights before November 11, Armistice Day. 2018 marks the centennial anniversary of the day which ended World War I.
Red poppy flowers became a symbol of peace following the war after a Canadian Army surgeon referenced them in a poem he wrote named “In Flanders Field.” The bright flowers rose from dark battlegrounds of Europe during the war.
DWP Live, a group who has designed Super Bowl halftime show performances, will set up the display named Peace and Remembrance. The lights will consist of nearly 55 million pixels. They will rotate every half hour from poppies to scenes of the war. The lights will be turned on from sunset every night until 1 a.m.
CEO and president of the National World War I Museum and Memorial Matt Naylor called the illumination exhibit a “once in a lifetime” opportunity.
“Us bathing the Memorial in poppies is a moving tribute to those who served and reminding us of their sacrifice,” he said.
Naylor’s grandfather served in the British military during World War I. He’s worked at the museum for the past six years.
Aside from the Peace and Remembrance light exhibit, the museum has several other events planned to celebrate Armistice Day, or Veterans Day.
From November 9 through 11, museum admission is free to veterans and active duty military members. Admission is half price to all others.
Beginning at 9:30 a.m. November 11, the museum will host a ceremony commemorating the 100-year anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War I. The ceremony will include music, songs and readings from diaries of the period.
At 10:55 that same morning, a Bells of Peace tolling ceremony will highlight the time world leaders signed the Armistice. The bell crews will toll has a special historic significance to Kansas City. It is the same bell the Daughters of the American Revolution tolled each day the United States was fully involved in the Great War from 1917 to 1918. The same bell rang in 1926 when President Calvin Coolidge dedicated the national memorial in Kansas City.
“The reality is that the world in which live today was shaped and birthed by WWI. You can't consider the American Century without considering the place WWI played in drawing the US out of our previously more isolated position and onto the world stage where it became a military, industrial, and financial powerhouse that really laid the foundation for the next 100 years,” Naylor said.
For information on other events throughout the week, visit the memorial’s website here.