“Time will not dim the glory of their deeds.”
— Gen. John J. Pershing
Had General John J. Pershing been on hand in Laclede this past weekend, we would surely have been gratified to see that the Traveling Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers was the centerpiece of the annual local festival held in his memory. Never fond of the prospect of having grand monuments erected in his memory, the greatest icon in American military history and its highest ranking officer would have been pleased to witness so much commemoration of three common soldiers whose names will never be known. Featured speaker Dr. Thomas Conner said it best during Saturday’s address at the site of what will become the John J. Pershing Museum and Leadership Archives: The memorials were always about the men and the cause for which they had fought, never about him. The only statue the American Battle Monuments Commission erected of Pershing himself came decades after his death...
A tenured faculty member of Michigan’s Hillsdale College and holder of the William P. Harris Chair in Military History, Prof. Conner is writing a history of the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC). The primary mission of the ABMC, as Prof. Conner explained, has been to establish and maintain cemeteries in Europe where Americans gave their lives for the cause of freedom from tyranny during World War I. As no other single individual ever devoted himself more fully to the realization of the ABMC’s chief objective, it was only fitting that Gen. Pershing, the first ABMC Chairman, be the subject of Dr. Conner’s address during Pershing Days.