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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, joined the United States in commemorating 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 consisted 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. Heads of State from eight nations 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 included 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 also participated in this historic event, learning how WWI changed the United States and the world.

Centennial Commission Signature EventNoteable attendees included Secretary of the Army Roberrt M. Speer; Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II; Missouri Governor Eric Grietens; ambassadors of nations involved in Wold War I; veterans organizations, including those representing historic U.S. military units; descendants of significant American WWI figures, including Helen Patton, Sandra Pershing, Deborah York and Noble Sissle, Jr.; and other organizations, dignitaries, and VIPs. The Heads of State of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, and the United Kingdom read passages from their respective countries during the Ceremony. 

About the Ceremony

The commemorative ceremony was a multi-media production illustrating America’s step by step decision to enter the war. A creative team led by artistic director Ed Bilous 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 also included 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 featured 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 who participated in the event included 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.