Tribute to General Pershing

Title: Tribute to General Pershing

Date: September 13, 1924

Location: Washington, D.C.

Context: Coolidge thanks General Pershing for his service and expresses the country’s indebtedness to him. 

The White House, 

Washington, Sept. 13. 1924.

General John J. Pershing, General of the Armies, having this day reached the age of 64 years, is retired from active service in conformity with a requirement of an act of Congress approved June 30, 1882. 

In announcing the termination of this distinguished soldier’s active military career it is deemed appropriate to remind the country of his eminent services and of the nation’s obligation to one whose accomplishments contributed so largely to the defense of the world’s liberties. 

Entering the army as a commissioned officer after graduation at the United States Military Academy in 1886, he endured the hardships of the Indian campaigns then necessary for the pacification of the Western frontier. In the war with Spain he participated in the Santiago campaign in Cuba. In the Philippine Islands, after their acquisition by the United States, it fell to his lot to assist in the suppression of the native insurrection, and his remarkable success in bringing under control some of the most turbulent tribes is a matter of history.

Becoming a general officer in 1906, he was entrusted with many important commands, and when the unsettled conditions on the border of Mexico in 1916 made it necessary to send a military expedition into that country he was selected for its command. In exercising this command, as well as in the others that had fallen to him, he demonstrated his capacity for the highest military functions, and his selection as the Commander of the American Expeditionary Forces in the World War was a natural consequence. 

His conduct of that high command fully justifies the selection as well as his elevation to the highest rank in our military service, which was conferred upon him permanently, under authority of a special act of Congress, in recognition of his fulfillment of his country’s expectations.

The American troops, under his command, by their presence, high qualities, and skillful management, assisted materially in the defeat of the Central Powers of Europe, which resulted in the freedom of civilization from autocratic rule. He is one of the very few officers who have held the rank of General in the permanent military establishment, and the one who has exercised supreme command over much the largest body of troops ever called into action by the United States Government.

His services to the world in the greatest conflict in which military forces have ever been engaged have been recognized through the award of the highest decorations by the governing authorities of Belgium, Great Britain, China, Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, Italy, Japan, Montenegro, Panama, Poland, Rumania and Serbia. 

In his position as Chief of Staff since the termination of the world conflict he has been a mainstay to the Executive in preparing an army of modest dimensions to be the nucleus of any military force the country may be obliged to place in the field. He has taken a leading part in the development of the citizen components of the Army of the United States. 

General Pershing has already received from the Congress the thanks of that body and of the American people, and now I extend to him anew the thanks of the nation for his eminent services, and feel certain that I voice the sentiment of the entire citizenry of the Republic in wishing him long life, happiness and prosperity in the retirement he has so richly earned. 


Citation: The New York Times, September 14, 1924. 


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