World War I museum announces Memorial Day activities

John Singer Sargent’s World War I painting titled ‘Gassed.’ Image courtesy of World War I Museum

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  An array of events in conjunction with Memorial Day Weekend, including free admission for veterans/active duty military personnel and half-price general admission for the public, and programs on how the Great War affected the environment, railways and journalism are among the May offerings at the National WWI Museum and Memorial.

As the commemoration of the Centennial of World War I (2014-19) continues, the National WWI Museum and Memorial serves as a fitting place to honor and recognize the men and women who sacrificed their lives while serving their country during Memorial Day weekend. Admission to the Museum and Memorial is free for veterans and active duty military personnel, while general admission for the public is half-price all weekend (Friday-Monday, May 24-27).

The Museum and Memorial offers a wide variety of events during the weekend for people of all ages, including a free public ceremony at 10 a.m. on Memorial Day featuring musical performances from Nashville recording artist and Kansas City native Casi Joy (recording artist from NBC’s “The Voice”), remarks from U.S. Missouri Fifth District Representative Emanuel Cleaver, II and Kansas City Mayor Sly James (a former U.S. Marine) and a keynote address from U.S. World War I Centennial Commissioner Dr. Monique Seefried.

More than 20 vintage military vehicles from World War II through Operation Desert Storm will be featured Saturday and Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend from the Military Vehicle Preservation Association. Additionally, the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter #243 will provide a Bell UH-1 Iroquois “Huey” helicopter for display from Saturday to Monday. On Sunday and Monday, people of all walks of life are invited and encouraged to show their support for military families by signing a mobility-equipped 2018 Ford F-150 Raptor truck that will eventually be donated to a veteran courtesy of Wounded Warriors Family Support.

Additional Memorial Day Weekend activities include a Letter Writing campaign to military personnel in support of Operation Gratitude, complimentary research stations featuring platforms such as Ancestry.com to help the public “find their World War I connection” and much more. A complete list of activities can be found at theworldwar.org/memorialday. Visitors are encouraged to skip the line and obtain tickets online in advance.

Image courtesy of World War I Museum

At 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 8, Tait Keller, Associate Professor of History at Rhodes College and editor of Environmental Histories of the First World War, explores how warfare and energy extraction coevolved during the war and explains how the intersections of armed conflict, human victimization and environmental exploitation still affect us during a free program.

Tasked to move troops, equipment and ammunition, American railroads were integral to mass mobilizations during WWI. At 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 18, historian and railroad expert Dr. Rudy Daniels, author of The Great Railroad War: United States Railway Operations in WWI, speaks on the pivotal events that shaped the fate of the railways system and how it influenced the outcomes of the war during a free program.

Image courtesy of World War I Museum

At 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 22, local historian and author James Heiman discusses of his latest book Front Lines to Headlines: The World War I Overseas Dispatches of Otto P. Higgins during a free program. Guests will hear the stories of Kansas Citians in the Great War as seen through the eyes of Kansas City Star reporter Otto P. Higgins in the years 1918-19 and discover previously unpublished documents and photographs depicting lives of soldiers.

Using newly discovered archival footage, first-person memoirs and expert commentary, The War to End all Wars…and Its American Veterans is a documentary exploring how World War I affected American society, including the creation of the Veteran’s Administration. At 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 18, the film screens at the Museum and Memorial followed by a Q&A with director Dr. Daniel Bernardi.

Image courtesy of World War I Museum

Other events during the month include: Family-Friendly Craft Your Own Postcard (Saturday, May 11; 10:30 a.m.); International Conscientious Objection Day Ceremony (Wednesday, May 15; 6 p.m.); Painting Demonstration with Impressionist artist Slava Korolenkov (Friday, May 17; 5 p.m.); Sip & Stretch: Pilates at the Museum (Tuesday, May 21; 6 p.m.); Swig and Stich: Craft Your Own Postcard (Wednesday, May 29; 6:30 p.m.).

The National WWI Museum and Memorial holds the most comprehensive collection of World War I objects and documents in the world and is the second-oldest public museum dedicated to preserving the objects, history and personal experiences of the war.

May National WWI Museum and Memorial Events

  • Every Thursday, 1:30 p.m.: Complimentary Tour (FREE with paid admission)
  • Every Saturday, 11 a.m.: Hands-on History (FREE)
  • Wednesday, May 8, 6:30 p.m.: The Bombs Still Blow: Environmental Legacies of WWI (FREE with RSVP)
  • Saturday, May 11, 10:30 a.m.: Family-Friendly: Craft Your Own Postcard (FREE with RSVP)
  • Wednesday, May 15, 6 p.m.: International Conscientious Objection Day Ceremony (FREE with RSVP)
  • Friday, May 17, 5 p.m.: Painting Demonstration (FREE with RSVP)
  • Saturday, May 18, 1 p.m.: The Great Railroad: United States Railway Operations in WWI (FREE with RSVP)
  • Saturday, May 18, 6:30 p.m.: The War to End All Wars and Its American Veterans Film Screening (FREE with RSVP)
  • Tuesday, May 21, 6 p.m.: Sip & Stretch: Pilates at the Museum ($5)
  • Wednesday, May 22, 6:30 p.m.: Front Lines to Headlines: WWI Dispatches from Kansas City Star’s Otto Higgins (FREE with RSVP)
  • Friday-Monday, May 24-27: Memorial Day Weekend Activities
  • Wednesday, May 29, 6:30 p.m.: Swig and Stich: Craft Your Own Postcard (FREE with RSVP)
  • Thursday, May 30, 5:30 p.m.: The Modernist Happy Hour (FREE) 

About the National WWI Museum and Memorial

The National WWI Museum and Memorial is America’s leading institution dedicated to remembering, interpreting and understanding the Great War and its enduring impact on the global community. The Museum and Memorial holds the most comprehensive collection of World War I objects and documents in the world and is the second-oldest public museum dedicated to preserving the objects, history and experiences of the war. The Museum and Memorial takes visitors of all ages on an epic journey through a transformative period and shares deeply personal stories of courage, honor, patriotism and sacrifice. Designated by Congress as America’s official World War I Museum and Memorial and located in downtown Kansas City, Mo., the National WWI Museum and Memorial inspires thought, dialogue and learning to make the experiences of the Great War era meaningful and relevant for present and future generations. To learn more, visit theworldwar.org.

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