Gass: On Veterans Day, Learning from ‘Black Jack’ Pershing

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This op-ed has appeared in The MetroWest Daily News, The Taunton Daily Gazette, The New Bedford Standard Times, the Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise, the Springfield Republican, and The Lowell Sun. Read an excerpt below.

“There’s no ‘glory’ in killing. There’s no ‘glory’ in maiming men,” said American six-star General John “Black Jack” Pershing, upon his 1924 retirement. “There are the glorious dead, but they would be more glorious living. The most glorious thing is life.”

Veterans Day is celebrated on November 11th, the armistice anniversary of World War I, which President Woodrow Wilson hubristically claimed was, “The war to end all wars.”

Visitors to the Massachusetts State House can see wall-sized, World War I commemorative murals in the hallways surrounding legislative leadership offices. But despite 116,700 American and 10 million total military deaths in the Great War, true remembrance of such holidays has slipped far from the historical consciousness of our country and schoolchildren.

After the Patrick administration’s shortsighted 2009 cancellation of the requirement that students pass a basic U.S. history MCAS test to graduate from high school, few Massachusetts students will know about World War I and the sacrifices that inspired Veterans Day.

John J. Pershing was the leading American military hero of WWI and among the greatest generals this country has ever produced. Read more