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In Sacrifice for Liberty and Peace:
Centennial Commemoration of the U.S. Entry into World War I

Hosted by the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission
at the National WWI Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, MO

April 6, 2017

On April 6, 1917, the United States officially entered World War I, a war that changed the nation and the world forever. On April 6, 2017, thousands in attendance, as well as those watching video across the nation and around the world, will see the United States commemorate this turning point in our nation’s and the world’s history with the “In Sacrifice for Liberty and Peace: Centennial Commemoration of the U.S. Entry into World War I” ceremony, hosted by the United States World War One Centennial Commission at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri.

This international ceremony will consist principally of the reading of passages from significant and representative American writings of a century ago about the U.S. decision to enter the war, including selections from speeches, journalism, literature, poetry, and performance of important music of the time. Invited American readers include the President of the United States. Certain Heads of State from other nations are invited to read passages reflecting the reaction of their respective nations to the U.S. entry into the war in 1917. “In Sacrifice for Liberty and Peace” also will include flyovers by U.S. aircraft and Patrouille de France, as well as military bands, color guards, ceremonial units, and video productions. Students across the nation will participate in this historic event, learning how WWI changed the United States and the world.

Centennial Commission Signature EventInvited attendees include the President of the United States; Congressional leadership; Cabinet members; State governors; U.S. military leaders; veterans organizations, including those representing historic U.S. military units; descendants of significant American WWI figures; and other organizations, dignitaries, and VIPs. The Heads of State of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, and the United Kingdom are invited to be readers during the Ceremony. The Heads of State of all nations whose people were involved in WWI are invited to attend the ceremony.

About the Ceremony

The commemorative ceremony is a multi-media production illustrating America’s step by step decision to enter the war. A creative team led by artistic director Ed Bilous has adapted historic images and music of the period into a 90-minute mixture of live performance and film to be broadcast on giant screens at the National WWI Museum and Memorial.

The colorful and awe-inspiring ceremony will also include commemorative flyovers by U.S. aircraft and Patrouille de France, the precision aerobatic demonstration team of the French Air Force, as well as the U.S. First Infantry Division Band and Color Guard, Native American Color Guard, Army and Air Force legacy units that served during World War I, and special video presentations and musical performances from the World War l period.

The show features powerful musical moments under the direction of Michelle DiBucci, including the world premiere of two historic songs, a special appearance by members of the Kansas City Symphony and two US military bands. Notable performers participating in the event include Kevin Costner, solo R&B recording artists Billy Cliff and Lisa Fischer, baritone John Brancy with pianist Peter Dugan, and Kansas City Lyric Opera featured artist Samantha Gossard.

Attending the Ceremony in person on April 6, 2017

By prior reservation, members of the general public will be able to attend the ceremony in a "festival seating" area (i.e. no chairs; standing or sitting on blankets or cushions). Tickets must be obtained in advance via the designated web site. There will be no admission without tickets in hand, either printed or on a mobile phone. Click here for more information on registering to attend “In Sacrifice for Liberty and Peace" in person on April 6.

Watching the Ceremony on TV or online on April 6, 2017

C-SPAN has committed to cover “In Sacrifice for Liberty and Peace” live on April 6. It is anticipated that other TV news organizations will cover the ceremony as well. The Defense Media Agency (DMA) will broadcast the ceremony live to the U.S armed forces and Defense Department Schools internationally. Live video of the ceremony will also be streamed on the Internet in several locations. 

Colloquium

In the afternoon of April 6, a distinguished colloquium will feature notable scholars and former high-ranking diplomats discussing what brought the United States into World War I, and what lessons on ending large conflicts can be learned from the war’s results. Attendance at the colloquium is by invitation only. The colloquium will be be streamed live on the Internet. Click here for more information on watching the colloquium live on April 6.

State and Local Events on April 6, 2017

The ceremony in Kansas City on April 6 will be reflected and complemented by state and local events across the nation, organized by state-based WWI centennial commemoration organizations and others. Click here to find a state or local event in your area.

Educational resources and opportunities

Students across the nation will be able to participate in this historic event which will be live-streamed, learning how WWI changed the United States and the world through both the performance and available educational materials.