Annual Taps Ceremony at National World War I Museum and Memorial

Photo by James Lopez

Sponsored by National World War I Museum and Memorial

On the North Wall of the Liberty Memorial Tower resides what is known as “The Great Frieze.” Sculpted by a WWI veteran, it’s one of the largest works of its kind in the world at 148 feet by 18 feet. Inscribed upon it is the following:

"These have dared bear torches of sacrifice and service: Their bodies return to dust, but their work liveth forevermore. Let us strive on to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."

The Great Frieze is occasionally unnoticed to those visiting the Museum. Its message, however, is quite powerful. It is symbolic of man’s transformation from war to peace at the end of World War I, and the importance of maintaining that peace throughout the world.

Similarly, Taps is played at dusk to signify the end of a day, and the transition into another. It eventually became a staple at military funerals to signify the “dusk” of a soldier’s life. In 2014, the National World War I Museum and Memorial created an annual tradition of holding Taps at the Tower at the base of the Liberty Memorial Tower every evening at dusk (8:45 p.m.) for an entire week during the month of June.

From June 19 through June 25, those in Kansas City are invited to use the grounds for a family outing, picnic, or just to enjoy the outdoors. At dusk, people will gather around the base of the Tower for the daily Taps at the Tower ceremony.

The Taps call is meant to be representative of all symbolism present within elements of Liberty Memorial, but the Great Frieze also supplies vivid imagery and cognitive association. This is perhaps because the combination of the written inscription and depictions in the Great Frieze showing the progression from war to peace allow for making those connections.

Taps at the Tower is a genuinely surreal experience, one which more than 3,500 people have experienced the previous two years. It’s highly recommended for all Kansas Citians, or anyone visiting the city to witness firsthand and remember where we’ve come from, and strive toward where we’re going.

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