Efforts to 'Save the Flame' at KC's National World War I Museum heat up

Pioneer Services leads effort, challenges others, to keep flame lit atop Liberty Memorial

Since its completion in 1921, the Liberty Memorial has been a Kansas City landmark, overlooking the downtown skyline. But recent funding issues have forced the flame sitting atop the 217-foot tower to be extinguished except on special holidays. The annual cost to keep the flame burning is estimated to be $45,000 by officials at the National World War I Museum.

After an article in the Kansas City Star highlighted the funding issue and efforts by community activists to raise awareness, Pioneer Services, a Kansas City-based company, stepped up with an initial $5,000 donation to keep the flame burning until July 4. The company is also challenging other local businesses, individuals, and groups to donate to the cause by July 4, and will match those contributions up to an additional $17,500.

"Since we work exclusively with the military community, we could not just sit back and let the flame go out," said Karen Von Der Bruegge, chief marketing officer for Pioneer Services. "The National World War I Museum is the only museum in America that preserves the legacy of those who served in the Great War, and we decided to do whatever we can to help ensure that legacy is honored."

There is a new Web site to inform people of the need for assistance and to facilitate donations. Concerned citizens and organizations can make a tax-deductible contribution by sending a check to 100 W. 26th St., Kansas City, MO 64108—make the check out to "National World War I Museum" and put "Save the Flame" in the memo line.

"Whether five or five hundred, every dollar is important," said Brian Alexander, National World War I Museum president and chief executive officer. "We are grateful to all of those who help keep the flame burning."

To learn more about the National World War I Museum, visit www.nwwone.org.