Red poppies have symbolized the First World War since the poem “In Flanders fields the poppies blow …” was published in 1918.
But seldom, if ever, have they been this big.
To mark the centennial of the Armistice that ended the war on the western front, the entire north facade of Kansas City’s Liberty Memorial along Pershing Road will be awash with more than 5,000 giant poppies — nearly 55 million pixels.
The projection, by effects company DWP Live, is being called “Peace and Remembrance” and will be repeated nightly beginning at 7 p.m. from Friday, Nov. 2, through Armistice Day on Sunday, Nov. 11. The poppies will recognize the roughly 9 million soldiers who died in the war.
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The lighting will complement the current temporary installation of 117 metal poppy sculptures by local artist Ada Koch in the reflection pool at the entrance to the museum. Each poppy is meant to represent 1,000 U.S. soldiers killed during World War I.
“After World War I, the poppy became a symbol of remembrance, hope and resilience,” said World War I museum President Matthew Naylor. “Displaying Ada’s art installation in the centennial year of the Armistice serves as an appropriate tribute to the men and women who gave their lives for their country.”
In addition, the museum last year replaced the 9,000 poppies in its permanent display beneath the glass bridge leading inside to the exhibits.
The lighting outside will be a highlight of commemoration plans by the National World War I Museum and Memorial on the deck beneath the tower. They include the tolling of a bell at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, the moment the slaughter ended. The bell that will be used was rung daily by the Daughters of the American Revolution in downtown Kansas City during the war. It was also rung at the 1926 dedication of the Liberty Memorial.
A multinational commemoration ceremony will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Nov. 11 and will include readings of letters from soldiers as well as musical performances.
Admission to the museum will be free for veterans and active-duty military personnel from Nov. 9 through Nov. 11. Other admissions during that time will be at half-price.