Firing on the First World War’s Western Front ended on Nov. 11, 1918, at “the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month.” After more than four years of fighting, an eerie stillness fell across the battlefields of Europe. The next day, Allied commander Field Marshal Ferdinand Foch sent a message to the Allied Armies: “You have won the greatest battle in history and served the most sacred cause—the Liberty of the World.” By the end of the war, 65 million people had served. Nearly 30 million became casualties.
Celebrating the end of war soon turned to sober remembrance of all who were lost. Armistice Day, officially recognized by President Wilson in 1919, is still observed throughout the world with many stopping for a moment of silence at the 11th hour of this day to honor those who brought about the end of the “Great War.” Known as Remembrance Day in many countries, the poppy is commonly worn and remains the symbol of commemoration originating from Canadian Lt. Col. John McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Fields.”
From Nov. 1–11, the National WWI Museum and Memorial offers an array of activities for people of all ages to commemorate the centennial of the Great War. Highlights include Peace and Remembrance, an illumination of America’s official WWI memorial each evening for nine days leading to Nov. 11 in recognition of the nine million soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice during the war. The lighting effect, which features nearly 55 million pixels and more than 5,000 poppies, was created by DWP Live, which has produced programs for major artists such as Adele and Beyonce as well as created productions for the Super Bowl halftime show. At 9:30 a.m. on Nov. 11, the Museum and Memorial hosts a multi-national Armistice Commemoration Ceremony featuring moving readings of letters from soldiers, poetry, musical performances and more. From Fri.–Sun., Nov. 9–11, admission to the Museum and Memorial is free for veterans and active duty military personnel, while general admission for the public is half-price.
The National WWI Museum and Memorial is located at 2 Memorial Dr., Kansas City, MO 64108. For more information, visit theworldwar.org.
The National WWI Museum and Memorial will be open on regular days/hours during the Armistice commemoration with the exception of Sun., Nov. 11 (9 a.m.–5 p.m.). To accommodate expected high attendance, additional parking will be available on the Southeast lawn of the complex (weather permitting). Visitors seeking to view the Peace and Remembrance illumination are welcome to use available parking on the Museum and Memorial grounds.
Armistice Day centennial commemoration special events
- 2018 Symposium—1918: Crucible of War features scholars and historians from across the world (Thurs. –Sat., Nov. 1–3)
- Peace and Remembrance illumination of America’s official WWI memorial each evening featuring nearly 55 million pixels and more than 5,000 poppies (Fri.–Sun., Nov. 2–11)
- Free admission for veterans/active duty military personnel and half-price general admission for the public (Fri.–Sun., Nov. 9–11)
- Research Stations featuring Fold3.com, Ancestry.com, the Museum’s online collections database, records from the American Battlefield Monuments Commission records and the National Archives to help individuals find their World War I connection (Fri.–Sun., Nov. 9–11)
- Craft Your Own Poppy event for children and families (Sat., Nov. 10; 10 a.m.)
Hands-On History allows people to handle real Great War artifacts (Sat., Nov. 11; 11 a.m.)
- Multi-national Armistice Ceremony commemorating the centennial of the World War I Armistice (Sun., Nov. 11; 9:30 a.m.)
- Bells of Peace tolling ceremony commemorating the time of the signing of the Armistice (Sun., Nov. 11; 10:55 a.m.)
- Walk of Honor Ceremony featuring the dedication of more than 100 new bricks (Sun., Nov. 11; 2 p.m.)
- Opportunity to view special exhibitions For Liberty: American Jewish Experience in WWI (closes Nov. 11), The World Remembers (closes Nov. 11), Reflections of Hope: Armistice 1918 (closes Nov. 11), Diggers and Doughboys: The Art of Allies 100 Years On, Crucible: Life & Death in 1918 and War Around Us: Soldier Artist Impressions.