KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The people who attended Thursday’s event at the National WWI Museum & Memorial ranged from aged veterans to young kids. All were there to take part in the “In Sacrifice for Liberty and Peace: Centennial Commemoration of the U.S. Entry into World War I” event.
Whether one was a dignitary in a white chair up front, or a member of the public who brought a personal lawn chair, everyone there had a reason to come and look back a century.
“We got here about 6:30 to 7. We really wanted to make sure we were here for this special event!” Kristin Spilker said.
She and her group grabbed a front row spot early Thursday morning to witness an event she’s been anticipating for months.
"I’ve done a lot of reading, coming to the museum multiple times. I appreciate the stories of bridging the past to the present,” Spilker said.
One hundred years ago, on April 6, 1917, the United States entered World War I. Thursday, thousands of metro residents, dignitaries, and special guests came to the nation’s only WWI museum and memorial to commemorate that date.
The story of the Great War was told through video, music, and presentations -- broadcast on screens, reaching those who made themselves comfy in chairs on the lawn. Many veterans solemnly remembered. They said it’s critical to make sure adults and kids understand the war and the course it set us on.
The State of Kansas Adjutant General Lee Tafanelli was inspired “to see so many young school age children that are here, to really take a look at their history and see how important WWI was.” Spilker agreed and said it’s the reason why she brought her young nephew.
“He’s a huge fan of the museum. He didn’t want to miss today. And he’s excited for the flyover!,” said Spilker.
Among dozens of speakers, one had a very personal tie to the war; her grandfather was the famed General George S. Patton. Helen Ayer Patton spoke, and sang to, Thursday’s crowd; music she said she wrote herself, inspired by the life and legacy of her grandfather.
“As a Patton, you can never be without a bit of him around. In a way, we carry him and his legacy forward,” said Helen Patton.
The National WWI Museum And Memorial said it will soon post today’s production on its website and on YouTube.