More than 100 people braved the cold this morning to celebrate and honor veterans and active duty military personnel at the National WWI Museum and Memorial on Veterans Day.

Mayor Quinton Lucas, who spoke at the ceremony recognized those that founded the museum toward the end of the 1918 influenza pandemic, 102 years ago.

“As the people of Kansas City began reshaping their economy, and the aftermath of the war and the waning days of the 1918 pandemic, they believed that what might today seem impossible, might actually be possible. A resilience to the men and women who served in the Armed forces and the resilience of those who thought this possible,” Lucas said.

Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum also spoke at the ceremony while wearing a Tuskegee airman jacket and sharing stories of veterans who also played in the Negro Leagues.

Baseball player Buck O’Neil served in the US Navy and Jackie Robinson served in the Army. Negro Leagues umpire Robert Motley was one of the country’s first Black Marines.

“Whether it is the story of the Tuskegee airmen, whether it is the story of the Buffalo Soldiers, or it is the story of the Negro Leagues, they’re all the same story,” Kendrick said. “What they demonstrate to us is when there are those that share great passion and pride in what they do, then we all can make indelible contributions in our society.”

The chairman of the museum’s board, Mark Henderson said it has been a significant year for the museum. With the pandemic, the museum, like other businesses, has experienced a loss in revenue in the past months.

Despite financial hardships, the museum was able to provide virtual resources and events for the public and, following CDC guidelines, opened its doors again in June.

“I hope and I believe that we have the resilience to weather this storm,” said President and CEO of the National WWI Museum and Memorial Matthew Naylor.

Museum admission is free for veterans and active duty military personnel through Nov. 15.

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