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Memorial Day events: Celebration at the Station, B-17 flights, WWI museum activities

Kansas City honors the nation's veterans at the National WWI Museum & Memorial

The 2017 Memorial Day ceremony at the National World War I Museum & Memorial honored all veterans who gave their lives for their country.
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The 2017 Memorial Day ceremony at the National World War I Museum & Memorial honored all veterans who gave their lives for their country.

Veterans and active-duty military personnel will receive free admission and the general public may visit the National World War I Museum and Memorial for half price this Memorial Day weekend, Friday through Monday.

Military vehicles from World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars and Operation Desert Storm will be on display on the grounds of the memorial all four days.

And the adventurous can catch a ride over Kansas City — for $450 — in a restored B-17 bomber on Saturday and Sunday from the Wheeler Downtown Airport. It is part of the Liberty Foundation Salute to Veterans tour.

The Madras Maiden, one of only about a dozen surviving operable B-17 Flying Fortresses, will take off on the hour from the Signature Flight Support terminal, 10 N.W. Richards Road, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Seats are limited. Call 918-340-0243 for a reservation.

Ground tours of the aircraft will also be available from 2:30-5:30 p.m. for a voluntary donation. Go to libertyfoundation.org for more information.

The Kansas City Symphony's Bank of America Celebration at the Station begins at 8 p.m. Sunday outside Union Station, facing the Liberty Memorial hill. Grounds open at 3 p.m.

The annual Memorial Day ceremony at the National World War I Museum and Memorial will be 10 a.m. Monday. The featured speaker will be former astronaut and Space Shuttle Commander Jon McBride.

A pancake breakfast to support the memorial and museum will be from 9-11 a.m. New Walk of Honor bricks will be dedicated at 2 p.m. Monday.

An epic painting, "Gassed" by John Singer Sargent, is in its closing days at the museum. It leaves June 3.

Visitors may also check out a new exhibit called "War Around Us: Soldier Artist Impressions," which opened Tuesday. It contains never-before-exhibited original works depicting a range of subjects, from joy and grief to mundane activities such as letter writing and shoe shining.

"This is what war is like," archivist Jonathan Casey said in announcing the exhibit. "There are moments of loss and despair but also times of relief and celebration. Because they were also soldiers, the artists experienced these competing emotions firsthand."

Anticipating high attendance, additional parking will be available on the southeast lawn of the memorial all weekend.

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