General of the Armies John Pershing Honored in Annual Veterans Day Ceremony
By Elizabeth Mathews
At 3’o clock on November 11, veterans carried on an annual Veteran’s Day tradition by gathering at the grave of America’s first General of the Armies, John J. “Black Jack” Pershing for a memorial service in his honor.
This ceremony was open to the public and attended by US servicemen and women as well as those from allied nations such as Canada. Also in attendance were members of the Young Marines.
Remarks were provided by such notable leaders as Kate Kelley, Acting Superintendent Arlington National Cemetery, Maj. Gen. Bradley A. Becker, commanding general, US Army Military District of Washington, and Col. (ret.) Clay Le Grande, Jr., commander in chief, MOWW. After the remarks, wreaths were laid at Pershing’s grave to honor both him and the men he commanded.
Pershing served in several conflicts over his 38 year career, though he is most remembered for his service as the Commander of the American Expeditionary Force in the Great War. Pershing not only led the United States to victory during the Great War, but also revolutionized the practices of the US Army. Under his leadership, the US Army updated its military training techniques, put more emphasis on physical fitness, and created professional schools for officers.
Two organizations founded by Pershing himself were heavily involved in the ceremony. The US Army Band “Pershing’s Own” provided the service with music, including one of Pershing’s personal favorite songs “My Buddy”.
The Military Order of the World Wars was the main organizer of the event, as it has been since the Veterans of World War I became too few to do so. The Military Order of the World Wars, or MOWW, was created at Pershing’s request after he expressed the desire for his officers to continue to serve their country after being released from active duty.