General of the Armies remembered on Veterans Day
November 12, 2013
ARLINGTON, Va. (Nov. 11, 2013) - - Americans paused Veterans Day morning while President Barack Obama placed a wreath in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. Later that day, veterans gathered again at the cemetery to pay their respects at the grave site of America's first General of the Armies, John J. "Black Jack" Pershing.
Pershing (1860-1948) served in the Indian Wars, the Spanish-American War, the Philippines, the Mexican Intervention and World War I. He was promoted to a rank never attained before, General of the Armies, the highest American military rank. During this time, Pershing reorganized the Army. Among his achievements, Pershing updated military training techniques, emphasized physical fitness and started professional schools for officers.
"Ceremonies like todays are important because in many ways and for many reasons, the First World War is not well understood or remembered in the United States," said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, commanding general of the U.S. Army Military District of Washington and the Joint Force Headquarters - National Capital Region. "Yet few events have so significantly shaped the world we live in. It truly is the epic conflict we know as the Great War."
Buchanan provided opening remarks, and musical support was supplied by the U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own." The Band was founded in 1922 by then Army Chief of Staff General Pershing to emulate European military bands he heard during World War I.
The Military Order of the World Wars' and Companions of Region IV began organizing the ceremony honoring Pershing after the Veterans of World War I became too few to carry on the task.
The Military Order of the World Wars' founding resulted from Pershing's request that his officers continue serving America after their active military service ended. Since Military Order of the World Wars was established in 1919, Military Order of the World Wars' members have lived by the motto, "It is more noble to serve than to be served."