National WWI Museum and Memorial honors all veterans

The National World War I (WWI) Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Mo., is hosting a day full of events honoring the nation’s veterans on Veterans’ Day, Nov. 11, 2020.

The day’s events kicked off just after sunrise as Purple Heart recipient Ryan “Birdman” Parrott’s symbolic WWI and “Missing Man” BASE jump from the top of the 217-foot Liberty Memorial. 

Parrot served eight years in the U.S. Navy, six of those as a Navy SEAL attached to SEAL Team 7, completing three combat tours in Iraq before being assigned to Advanced Training Command as an instructor.

An extreme sport enthusiast, he founded the Bird’s Eye View Project (BEVP), which uses extreme sports to raise funds and awareness for veteran and first responder charities. He started BEVP because he knows that it takes big events to make a significant impact.

What started as one man’s idea of running from Dallas to Waco in 24 hours to raise $100,000 for charity, turned into a charity that performs over-the-top stunts to impact those who need it most – veteran and first-responders injured in the line of duty.

Following Parrott’s jump, an all-veteran group parachute team tandem skydived a veteran from each war – World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf, Afghanistan War & Iraq War, as well as Sept. 11 – and landed on the Museum and Memorial’s North Lawn. 

“We’re excited to host this special ‘Legacy Jump’ on Veterans Day.” said Dr. Matthew Naylor, president & CEO of the National WWI Museum and Memorial. “We are proud to honor the men and women who sacrificed their lives for our country.”

The 20 veterans who participated in the Legacy Jump range from age 28 to 92. Despite the freezing temperatures, Vietnam War veteran Dennis Bielskis said that it was the best thing he’d ever done.

At 10 a.m. the annual Veterans Day Ceremony will take place in the Memorial Courtyard. Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball museum will deliver the keynote address, followed by Mayor Quinton Lucas who will share a special reading. This year’s abbreviated ceremony will be outdoors to ensure safety during COVID-19. The museum recommends those in attendance dress warmly, practice social distancing and wear a mask.

For 24 years, Cars 4 Heroes has been providing free, basic, reliable transportation to veterans, first responders and their families who are not able to obtain transportation for themselves. At 11 a.m., Cars 4 Heroes will hand over the keys to 11 cars to deserving individuals in a ceremony on the North Lawn.

Also at 11 a.m., be on the lookout for two UH-60 Blackhawks from the 1-108th Aviation Regiment of the Kansas Army National Guard flying over downtown Kansas City and the memorial.

The Walk of Honor through the Memorial Courtyard will dedicate more than 100 new granite bricks during a special ceremony at 2 p.m. The Walk of Honor is divided into three sections: bricks dedicated solely to those who served in World War I; bricks dedicated to veterans of any military service; and bricks that honor civilian friends, family or organizations. Walk of Honor bricks are dedicated twice each year during Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies.

A performance by the Kansas City Symphony will wrap up the day’s activities. From 3 to 5 p.m. on the Southeast Lawn, they will perform on the Symphony’s new outdoor stage on wheels, the Mobile Music Box. At a time when audiences cannot visit indoor venues, the Symphony has been taking its music on the road to reach music lovers and families in every corner of the metro.

Museum admission is free to veterans and active duty military through Nov. 15, and is half price for the public on Nov. 11.

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