KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The eyes of the nation will be on Kansas City on Nov. 11 as America commemorates the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.
The centennial commemoration kicked off Friday night at the National World War I Museum and Memorial with a Peace and Remembrance Illumination. The Liberty Memorial has been adorned in 5,000 digitally displayed poppies.
The poppy gained historical significance after World War I in a poem called “In Flanders fields,” talking about the only plants to grow on the barren World War I battlefields of Belgium.
The poppies have always been below people’s feet as they entered the National World War I Museum and Memorial. Now, they will adorn the memorial’s outside for everyone to see throughout downtown until the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day.
At 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918, the fighting that claimed 9 million lives finally came to an end.
"Nothing, especially with the Kansas City pride that I have, can reflect any better than having such a magnificent place and memorial here to make Kansas City proud and to have this spectacular event where we illuminate these poppies," Candy DeSpain said, visiting the museum.
Perhaps the only numbers more staggering than the lights it takes to put on this display -- 55 million pixels, 800,000 lumens -- are the numbers of lives lost that they represent. During the first World War, 7,200 soldiers were killed per day, 300 per hour, nearly 9 million in all.
Those numbers and some images from the war will be displayed every half hour up until Nov. 11th with the memorial lit up from a little after sunset until 1 a.m. nightly.
Admission to the National World War I Museum and Memorial will be half price beginning Nov. 9 through Nov. 11 and free for veterans all weekend long.