General of the Armies remembered on Veterans Day
November 11, 2012
WASHINGTON (Nov. 11, 2012) - - Hours after the National Veterans Day wreath laying ceremony performed by the President, another ceremony was held in Arlington National Cemetery, Va., 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.
The Military Order of the World Wars and Companions of Region IV began organizing the ceremony honoring Pershing after the Veterans of World War One became too few to carry on the task.
"We started to get more actively involved about 20 years ago, and today we invite representatives from the Allied nations because we recognize their service as well," said retired Col. Bert Rice, commenting on the number of foreign military officers attending the ceremony. "We couldn't have won the war without them."
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."
Guest speaker at the ceremony was Maj. Gen. Michael S. Linnington, commanding general of the U.S. Army Military District of Washington and the Joint Force Headquarters - National Capital Region. Music 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.