“On parade, the Pershing
smile became a proverb. It broke a thousand cameras”
‘What the world admires
in General Pershing is his modesty. He has been a
soldier without swagger. He won battles, but he did not boast or brag about them.
Some people think that he had too little praise for others; if so, he expected
no praise himself. He did not flatter the doughboys. At times, perhaps, he was
inclined to be hard on them. If,
however, he was strict, it was only because he knew that he was risking
their lives, and he did not want those lives to be lightly thrown away. Any man
who honestly looks death in the face must be stern when he stands at
But at mess — yes, and
on parade — the Pershing smile became a proverb. It broke a thousand cameras.
If Pershing can smile, it is because his conscience is at ease. So
transparent is his honesty that he has never had anything to conceal, except
his plans from the enemy, who, more than once, were taken by surprise when he
The big thing about
this big man is the simple fact that he hates fuss. When the
reporters try to interview him, he sits tongue-tied. He cannot explain
things to the press. At the art of publicity and advertisement, he is a
mere tyro. And some boosters — to whom any quiet fellow is a boob — have
undervalued Pershing. They are wrong.
But when Pershing says
“yes,” it is yes. And his “no"
is no. He settles large issues with short words. And throughout his brilliant
career, he has known his place.
There are officers — not so far, some of
them from the
United States — who would profit a good deal by General Pershing’s example of
WW1, Philip W. Wilson (1875–1956) American correspondent for the Daily News
– Photo: September 17 1919, General Pershing, saluting and smiling, during the
Victory Parade in Washington
Note: The Victory parade in Washington took place September
17 1919, on the 132th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution of the United
States (although not planned as such a celebration).
“The reception in Washington was very
enthusiastic, and every available space along Pennsylvania Avenue, down which
the parade passed, was crowded to the utmost with people eager to see the
troops who had remained longest abroad and who had been most often in the
fight. Flowers were showered in the path of the regiment as it passed along the
avenue. Newspapers both at the capital and in New York declared the two parades
to have been the greatest of the kind in the history of the nation.” Source