Drive Your Own Tour – Honor Patriot Day

Published by Lori Ventura on

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

Vietnam Memorial Fountain KCMO

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.

Vietnam Memorial Fountain, KCMOAnd 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.

Vietnam Memorial Fountain Wall of Names, KCMO

Stop #2 Liberty Memorial Fountains

Location:  2 Memorial Drive, KCMO

Dedication Year:  1934 – 1935 & 1999 – 2002

Liberty Memorial Entrance Waterfall

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.

The Great Frieze Wall of Liberty Memorial KCMONot 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.  Liberty Memorial Entrance-South Side, KCMO

Stop #3 Firefighter Fountain  & Memorial

Location:  31st Street & Pennsylvania Ave, KCMO

Dedication Year:  1991

Firefighter Fountain KCMO

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. Firefighter fountain and memorial, KCMO

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.

Firefighter Memorial Wall, KCMOA 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.

Firefighter Memorial - Fallen hero statue, KCMO

Stop #4 William Fitzsimmons Memorial Fountain

Location:  12th Street & The Paseo, KCMO

Dedication Year:  1922

William Fitzsimmons - WWI officer KIA from Kansas City

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!William Fitzsimmons Memorial Fountain, KCMO

Stop #5 American Legion Memorial Fountain

Location:  3999 Swope Pkwy & 3999 E Meyer Blvd (north of main shelter house), KCMO

Dedication Year:  1921

American Legion Fountain, Swope Park  KCMO

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.

American Legion Raised Relief, Swope Park KCMOThe 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

American War Mother's Memorial Fountain, KCMO

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.

War Mother's Memorial Fountain Yellow Star War Mother's Memorial Fountain Blue Star

War Mother's Memorial Fountain Badge

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!).

Did you drive this tour?  Do you have more suggestions to add to this tour? We’d love to hear from you.  Drop a line, a pic, or share something on our FB page!

Lori Ventura

Lori Ventura is a website developer and a small business entrepreneur. She is a proud resident of her beloved Kansas City, actively promotes local small businesses and a super-fan of the glorious fountains that embody the spirit and beauty of Kansas City.


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