This Veteran’s Day, PruittWrites would like to briefly spotlight Three Soldiers of World War 1. It was after this conflict that Veteran’s Day was enacted. So we find it only fitting to look into the lives of three men who defended our nation during this time.
General Of The Armies
Only two men hold the title, and one of them was George Washington. The other, actually held it first, while in command, General Of The Armies. His uniform included the wearing of four gold stars instead of silver, and any soldier that knew him, would tell you he deserved it. General Pershing was a man ahead of his time, a believer in equality, fairness, and in the American Soldier.
The famous epitaph he was given, “Black Jack”, came first as a derogatory slang for leading African American troops. Before joining the army, he taught local African American children in his home state of Missouri. In 1895 he commanded one of the original Buffalo soldier regiments in the 10th Cavalry. He led the regiment in the battle of San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War.
A lifetime of faithful, and expert service resulted in him being chosen to lead the entire American forces during World War 1. He was appointed the title General Of The Armies on the same year that Veteran’s Day was instituted in honor of our soldiers, 1919. This teacher, this soldier, this general, would go on to win the Pulitzer prize for his memoirs on the events of World War 1.
Sergeant Alvin Cullum York, became one of the most decorated soldiers for his bravery during World War 1. He was awarded the Medal Of Honor for leading an attack on a German machine gun post that eliminated 32 machine guns, and captured 132 prisoners. The son of a blacksmith, he was born in a two room log cabin near Pall Mall, Tennessee on December 13, 1887.
As a young man, after the death of his Father, he worked to help his Mother support a family that included eleven children. His two older brothers having already married and relocated, it became his responsibility. Alvin would travel to Harriman for work in construction, and later logging to make the ends meet.
It was General Pershing himself awarded Sergeant York the Medal Of Honor. Alvin would go on to win nearly 50 decorations for bravery. A strong Christian, when asked about his accomplishments, he replied, “A higher power than man guided and watched over me and told me what to do.”
Sergeant York retired a hero, and though many would have been content to leave it at that, he wasn’t. When World War 2 arrived, he attempted to re-enlist. He was turned down, due to poor health, but that did not stop the man from Tennessee. He was commissioned as a Major in the Signal Corps.
At his own expense, he toured training camps, inspiring the soldiers. He taught them that well trained soldiers can fight their way out of any situation. Although he rose to the rank of Colonel in the Tennessee State Guard, to us and countless of Americans, he will always be Sergeant York.
Our last soldier, cheated to get into the Army. His eyesight was considered so poor, that he was turned down for service. This happened both at West Point, and the Missouri National Guard. Harry wouldn’t let it stop him though, he secretly memorized the eye chart to get in.
He was determined to serve his country. Others saw this determination and Harry was made First Lieutenant. A sudden attack by the enemy in the Vosges Mountains could have proved disastrous, had it not been for Harry. His unit began to retreat, but Harry encouraged them to stay and fight, leading his men.
On another occasion, his quick thinking in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive saved many American lives. Future World War 2 hero, General Patton’s tank brigade, would receive cover from his men as well. Like General Pershing, and Sergeant York, Harry would go on to serve his country during World War 2. First as a Senator from Missouri, then as Vice President, and finally as President Harry S. Truman.
In their own way, these three WW1 Veterans, taught their fellow Americans something. No matter what age, no matter how old, or how young, we are never too anything to stand for our country.
The soldiers that have fought, bled, and either perished or survived in the defense of our great country deserve all of our honor. No matter what political persuasion, regardless of opinion, passion, or background, we can all stand together in this. The American Soldier doesn’t stand for a platform, candidate, or temporary argument, they stand for us. May God bless our soldiers, the frontline for all that we believe in and hold dear.