For Memorial Day, Kansas City's World War I Museum Invites Public To Make Connections

May 26, 2017

The National World War I Museum and Memorial plans several events, along with free admission for veterans and active-duty military personnel, to celebrate Monday's national holiday recognizing the men and women who've died in service to the U.S. military. 

"For a lot of families, it's really a significant moment to honor those who have served and especially those whose lives were lost," says Matthew Naylor, the museum's president and CEO.

This year marks the centennial of the United States' entrance into World War I. Staffers from the museum will be on hand at research stations to help visitors find a family connection. 

"The United States was transformed by this conflict," says Naylor. "It's a story that's connected to so many of us. And so one of the things that we'll be doing is providing opportunities for people to do some research on their ancestors, find their roots, find their connection." 

About 20 vintage military vehicles will be on display Saturday dating from World War II, the Korean War, and Operation Desert Storm. A "Huey" helicopter from the Vietnam era will be on display throughout the weekend. 

Patriotic songs are also on the roster, with concerts by the 35th Infantry Division Band at 2 p.m. on Saturday and the Kansas City Symphony at 8 p.m. on Sunday on stage in front of Union Station followed by a fireworks display over Liberty Memorial.

Photojournalist Michael St Maur Sheil spent nearly a decade documenting what World War I battlefields look like today. This photo shows a relic German field gun in Belleau Wood.
Credit Michael St Maur Sheil

"It's a wonderful opportunity to come out to remember, to honor those who have served, to spend time with your family, to enjoy the parklands as well," says Naylor.  

A free public ceremony Monday at 10 a.m. features photojournalist Michael St Maur Sheil. His contemporary photographs of World War I battlefields are on view in an outdoor exhibition, Fields of Battle, Lands of Peace: The Doughboys 1917-1918

"This exhibition draws people in through the spectacular landscape photography and then tells the story in bite-sized pieces of the U.S. getting involved in World War I, what it did to turn the tide," Naylor says.

In addition to the free admission Friday through Monday for veterans and active duty military personnel, half-price tickets are available to the public. Check here for a full listing of events. 

Laura Spencer is an arts reporter at KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter @lauraspencer.