With poetry, red poppies and praise for peace, Kansas City on Veterans Day remembered soldiers from all wars as it commemorated the centennial anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I.
Hundreds of people streamed into the gallery at the base of Liberty Memorial at the National WWI Museum and Memorial, including soldiers from the United States, Canada, France and Germany. Veterans in ball caps and kids in plastic doughboy hats listened as the words of Woodrow Wilson and Winston Churchill were read 100 years to the day after they were first delivered.
Armistice Day marks the agreement signed by the World War I allies on the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" of 1918.
Bob Woolrich, a U.S. Army veteran from Olathe, Kansas, stood up from his wheelchair for the playing of taps. Woolrich served in the Army from 1962 to 1965 and said he lost two friends in the Vietnam War.
“If you lose someone in a war, whether you are serving with them or you’re a parent or a sibling of someone that you lost,” Woolrich said, “every day – every day – they’re with you.”
Major Jean-Francois Lamarche of the Canadian Army brought his family to the event. Lamarche, who is in the U.S. to study at Fort Leavenworth, said his family always marks Canada’s version of Veteran’s Day, called Remembrance Day, and wanted to do so here, too.
“Every year it’s a tradition for us to take a moment to remember,” Lamarche said. “Being here, especially on the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, is very moving.”
Candice Millard, author of a Churchill biography, read his description of Armistice Day, how the “war-straitened, regulated streets of London had become a triumphant pandemonium.” Kansas City Mayor Sly James read Wilson’s announcement to Congress, saying the peace would be “based upon something much better and more lasting than the selfish competitive interests of powerful states.”
Woolrich said the loss of his buddies, along with monuments like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, made him realize that these places weren’t about stone but people. He attended Sunday’s service, he said, to honor all the losses in American history.
“I always hope, on this day in particular, that we really will find peace,” Woolrich said. “I don’t know that we will in my lifetime.”
Peggy Lowe is a reporter at KCUR and is on Twitter @peggyllowe.