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Commission announces program participants and Special Guests for April 6 Ceremony

Paulo Sibaja
Special to the World War I Centennial Commission web site

Program CoverWashington, D.C. – The United States Centennial Commission today announced program participants and special guests for “In Sacrifice for Liberty and Peace: Centennial Commemoration of the U.S. Entry into World War I” on April 6 at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, MO.

The Commission will welcome some 4,000 attendees from 26 U.S. states, and representatives from 27 nations worldwide. Honorary Hosts for the ceremony include Missouri Governor Eric Greitens, Missouri U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt, U.S. Representative Emanuel Cleaver, II and Kansas City Mayor Sylvester “Sly” James.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars is the Presenting Sponsor of the event.

Special guests and participants include Acting Secretary of the U.S. Army Robert M. Speer; Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Paul J. Selva; Kansas Governor Sam Brownback; and Lt. Governor Jeff Colyer. Descendants of notable World War l leaders and soldiers in attendance include Helen Patton, granddaughter of General George S. Patton; Sandra Pershing, wife of the late Colonel John W. Pershing who is the grandson of General of the Armies John J. Pershing; Colonel Gerald York, USA (Ret.), grandson of Sergeant Alvin York; Deborah York, great-granddaughter of Sergeant Alvin York; and Noble Sissle, Jr. and Cynthia Sissle Hinds, son and daughter of Noble Sissle, a member of New York’s celebrated 369th Infantry Regiment.

Prelude elements include a special Purple Heart presentation to World War I medal recipient Cpl Leo George Rauf’s great nephew Michael Staton; and a special blessing by Muscogee Creek Native American song leader Wotko Long. 

During the Pre-Ceremony, the Honorary Hosts will deliver welcoming remarks, along with World War I Centennial Commission Chair Robert Dalessandro, National World War I Museum and Memorial Executive Director Matt Naylor, and Pritzker Military Museum and Library founder COL (IL) Jennifer Pritzker, IL ARNG (Ret.). A multi-faith invocation will be offered as well.

The ceremony “In Sacrifice for Liberty and Peace: Centennial Commemoration of the U.S. Entry into World War I” is a multi-media production that illustrates American life in 1917 as the horror of war continued on the battlefields of Europe. It will recall the impassioned arguments from our countrymen and women both for and against involvement in the Great War.

As part of the ceremony, Robert M. Speer, Acting Secretary of the U.S. Army, will read a portion of President Calvin Coolidge’s speech delivered on November 11, 1926 at the dedication of the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, MO. Other memorable moments from the ceremony will include a flyover by the French Air Force Patrouille de France in tribute to the U.S. role in World War l; a special flyover by the B2 Spirit stealth bomber of the 509th Bomb Wing, located at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri; a performances by the 1st Infantry Division Band and firing of cannons by the Delta Battery, 1st Battalion, 129th Field Artillery Regiment Missouri Army Reserve National Guard, President Harry Truman's Field Artillery.

 International participants reading passages from a century ago about their respective nation’s reaction to the U.S. decision to enter the war are:

  • Group Captain Peter Davis, Assistant Defence Attaché, Defence Chief of Staff Embassy of Australia to the United States
  • Ambassador Dr. Wolfgang Wagner, Ambassador of Austria to the United States
  • Ambassador Dirk Wouters, Ambassador of Belgium to the United States
  • Consul General Khawar Nasim, Consul General of Canada
  • Ambassador Gérard Araud, Ambassador of France to the United States
  • Ambassador Dr. Réka Szermerkényi, Ambassador of Hungary to the United States
  • Ambassador Armando Varrichio, Ambassador of Italy to the United States
  • Dr. Andrew Murrison, MP, United Kingdom Prime Minister’s special representative for the First World War Centenary

Representatives from some 27 countries including Algeria, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Tajikistan, The United Kingdom and Ukraine will be in attendance.

“In Sacrifice for Liberty and Peace: Centennial Commemoration of the U.S. Entry into World War I” will begin at 8:30 a.m. CDT. General public tickets are sold out; however, anyone interested in watching the ceremony may go to www.ww1cc.org/april6 on April 6 at 8:30 a.m. CDT.

For additional information on “In Sacrifice for Liberty and Peace: Centennial Commemoration of the U.S. Entry into World War I” on April 6 please visit www.ww1cc.org/april6.


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