Thousands view giant poppies at Liberty Memorial honoring centennial of WWI armistice

No one is even trying to count the number of people so far who have seen the towering “Peace and Remembrance” light show on the north facade of the Liberty Memorial.

All that spokesman Mike Vietti could say was that attendance is “in the thousands” since the nightly projection began Friday. That would include people driving by on Pershing Road as well as those who trek up the hill for a closer view.

The projection of poppies, a symbol of World War I, will continue through Sunday night — Veterans Day, Nov. 11 — as part of the observance of the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended the shooting on the Western Front.

The light show covers the entire base of the memorial as well as the 217-foot tower shaft from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. nightly. At the top of each hour and at each 30-minute mark, the poppies make way for other images and information about the Great War.

The projection by effects company DWP Live features more than 5,000 poppies, nearly 55 million pixels and 800,000 lumens. The poppies represent the roughly 9 million soldiers who died during the war.

The sponsor of the project is the United States World War One Centennial Commission, which commemorated the U.S. entry into the war in 2017 at the National World War I Museum and Memorial here.

Others are also making big gestures to mark the armistice on Nov. 11. At the empty moat at the Tower of London, 10,000 torches are lit nightly by Beefeater guards in a project called “Beyond the Deepening Shadow.”

In World War I, the combatants agreed to stop at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Nov. 11 was declared Armistice Day by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919. In 1954, after World War II and the Korean War, President Dwight D. Eisenhower rededicated Nov. 11 as Veterans Day.

Local events Sunday will include a multinational commemoration ceremony at 9:30 a.m. at the base of the tower, which the museum calls the Memorial Courtyard. It will feature readings of letters from soldiers as well as musical performances.

At 11 a.m. will come the tolling of a bell that was rung daily in downtown Kansas City during American involvement in the war by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

The light projection and the ceremonies are free to the public. Additional parking will be available Sunday on the southeast lawn of the memorial.

Admission to the museum is free from Friday through Sunday for veterans and active-duty military personnel. Admission is half price Friday through Sunday for others. The discount applies only to tickets sold onsite.

Several other centennial-related activities are listed at the memorial’s website www.theworldwar.org.