Drive Your Own Tour – Honor Patriot Day
Drive your own tour – Patriot Day
Patriot Day, also known as National Day of Prayer and Remembrance, has been an American holiday observed since December 18, 2001, when the US Congress passed a joint resolution to honor those that lost their lives during the terrorists’ attacks on American soil on September 11, 2001. Americans are encouraged to fly their flags at half-mast, observe a moment of silence at 8:46 am EST, celebrate our great democracy and be grateful for our country’s freedoms.
Luckily, we Kansas Citians can get out and do something to honor our freedoms! Kansas City is home to 200+ fountains, and we can get very intentional and specific to honor America’s great freedoms by hopping in our cars and visiting SIX war memorial fountains.
This self-guided tour can be accomplished in about 2 hours and covers approximately 15 miles. So, grab your favorite peeps, beverages & snacks, and LET’S GO!
Stop #1 Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fountain
Location: 43rd Street & Broadway, KCMO
Dedication Year: 1985
This emotionally powerful fountain is an inspiring symbolic reflection of the country’s involvement in the conflict in Vietnam. The fountain consists of 5 interconnected pools representing America’s growing involvement in the war, which then flows into two separate pools representing the county’s divided opinions about our involvement in the war.
And the water itself? It represents cleansing and rebirth that comes from washing away the scars of that time. Behind the fountains, is a wall with the names of 451 fellow Kansas Citians that lost their lives in the war in Vietnam.
Stop #2 Liberty Memorial Fountains
Location: 2 Memorial Drive, KCMO
Dedication Year: 1934 – 1935 & 1999 – 2002
Considered the Great War, WWI (1914 – 1918) saw 4 million US families send their sons and daughters off to fight for Militarism, Alliances, Imperialism and Nationalism. Over 100K Americans died and 200K+ were wounded. At the end of the war, US patriotism was high and a monument to honor those lost in Kansas City was deemed vital. In just 10 short days, $2.5M was raised (the equivalent of $35M today) and the Liberty Memorial was on its way to being one of the premier WWI memorials in the country. On the north side of the memorial, 2 identical fountains are embedded into their own retaining wall built on two levels with inspirational words carved into stone over each.
Not to be missed is the huge 148-foot north wall frieze depicting images representing mankind’s progression from war to peace.
Traveling around to the south side of the memorial, one is presented with a beautiful waterfall fountain etched into the landscape at the entrance to the museum.
Stop #3 Firefighter Fountain & Memorial
Location: 31st Street & Pennsylvania Ave, KCMO
Dedication Year: 1991
No fountain in KC is more fitting to honor Patriot Day, than this jewel of the city. The Firefighter Fountain is one of the city’s largest and most powerful fountains with 48 nozzles shaped like hoses spraying into an 80-foot basin. The two bronze life-sized firefighters that sit atop 3 tiered pedestals are so lifelike that you can easily imagine they are staring right at you.
Discussions for a memorial honoring our KC firefighters began in 1968, but not much was done until the tragic 1988 explosion that killed 6 firefighters. Through community support and requests, the site and design took shape and in 1991 the fountain was dedicated and turned on.
A major renovation in 2015 included the installation of 2 metal curved panels (lit up at night in blue to emote calm, tranquility and peace) displaying names & dates of those killed in the line of duty, as well as the curved granite wall that tells the history of the KCFD. Finally, a life-sized bronze figure firefighter with his head bowed paying tribute is located behind the fountain.
Stop #4 William Fitzsimmons Memorial Fountain
Location: 12th Street & The Paseo, KCMO
Dedication Year: 1922
Don’t blink, because you just might miss this gem of a tribute! When American forces entered WWI in April of 1917 against Germany, little did Kansas City know that our town would be known as being the hometown of the first WWI American officer killed in the line of duty. On September 4, 1917, Dr. William Fitzsimons was a US Army Corpsman providing medical treatment to fellow wounded soldiers in an Army hospital in France when the Germans dropped bombs killing Fitzsimmons. Shortly thereafter in May of 1918, the Dr. Fitzsimmons Memorial Committee asked the Board of Park Commissioners to erect a monument in his honor. John Van Brunt, (yes, that Van Brunt!) Park Board architect, created the design and selected the site. Public interest and pride prevailed and all but $500 through public donations was raised to construct the fountain. Designed as a drinking fountain, the stone fountain consists of a tablet bearing the Army Medical Corp bronze emblem with a dedication inscription to Dr. Fitzsimons. No longer in service, this beauty is hard to get to, but if you sit at the light just long enough, you can catch a great glimpse of it and snap a pic too!
Stop #5 American Legion Memorial Fountain
Location: 3999 Swope Pkwy & 3999 E Meyer Blvd (north of main shelter house), KCMO
Dedication Year: 1921
Sitting in Swope Park near the main shelter house sits one of the oldest (although not operable anymore) drinking fountains in the city. Dedicated in 1921, this large Tennessee marble fountain pays tribute to those who have served their country and ultimately helped ensured the final success of the war effort. The fountain is a 6-foot-tall rectangular slab with 2 short wings on each side.
The beautiful, relief bronze plaque sitting horizontally across depicts a moving scene of American soldiers entering a war-torn French village with emaciated soldiers approaching the French villagers who are shown as wounded refugees. When this fountain was dedicated many KC residents stood in line for hours hoping to be one of the first to drink from this beautiful fountain.
Stop #6 American War Mother’s Fountain
Location: The Paseo and East Meyer Boulevard, KCMO
Dedication Year: 1942
The American War Mothers organization was formed by Congress in 1917 to provide an organization for the mothers of children who were currently engaged in the WWI conflict. Over the years, it has expanded to other endeavors, but the main goal of always keeping the mother of service members in mind has not changed. In 1931, KC Park Board gave the organization a plot of land for use as a “memory garden” and then in 1942, a fountain was dedicated. Simple in style and structure, the 18-foot obelisk sits in a 20-foot diameter pool with each side of the obelisk possessing a simple water feature that emits a small jet of water into the retaining pool. The symbolic features of each side of the obelisk are what makes this a beautiful tribute; a gold star representing those killed in battle, a blue star representing those wounded, and a white star representing those who returned from war physically uninjured. The fourth side displays the War Mothers insignia.
So there you have it! Six war memorial fountains that you can visit, reflect and admire on Patriot Day (or whenever you are feeling extra patriotic!).