On the Road: Screening “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War” at Washington, D.C’s Metropolitan Club

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Professor Barney McCoy, director/producer of “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War,” discusses his documentary with members of the Metropolitan Club in Washington, D.C. on June 28.

June 28 was a special screening night for “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War” at the Metropolitan Club in Washington, D.C.  Special because John Pershing was a member of the club a century ago as has been almost every U.S. president since Abraham Lincoln. Pershing used the private club in 1917 to interview candidates for his WWI command staff before sailing for France.

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The Metropolitan Club, circa 1922, is where John Pershing vetted his WWI command staff before sailing for France in 1917. Pershing was a member of the club which sits just a couple of blocks from the White House in Washington, D.C.

Founded during the Civil War, the Metropolitan Club is conveniently located at 17th and H streets, just two blocks from the White House. It gave Pershing quick, confidential access to President Woodrow Wilson and Secretary of War Newton Baker when needed as America entered WWI in April 1917 as an ally with France and Britain against Germany.

MetClubComp1My thanks to Ambassador (Ret.) Theodore Sedgwick from the U.S. WWI Centennial Commission and Walker Noland for inviting me to screen the Pershing documentary at the Metropolitan Club. David Hamon from the WWICC also attended the screening and dinner and was a pleasure to meet.

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The Metropolitan Club hosted my wife Joanne and me during our visit to Washington, D.C to screen “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War” on June 28.

The WWI Centennial Commission is seeking public donations to build a memorial in Washington, D.C. to those who served and those who were wounded and died serving  America in WWI.

After the documentary, I answered questions from several club members before joining them for more conversation at dinner with wife Joanne in the Metropolitan Club’s elegant dining room.

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Charles Dawes (center) was a close friend of John Pershing’s from their days together in Lincoln, Nebraska in the early 1890’s. Back then Dawes was an attorney in Lincoln and Pershing was commander of the cadet corps at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Dawes and Pershing were also members of the Metropolitan Club in Washington, D.C.

During that discussion, I learned from members that former Lincoln attorney Charles Dawes was also a member of the Metropolitan Club. Dawes first met Pershing in the 1890’s when Pershing commanded the cadet corps at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln while earning a law degree. Dawes, at the time, was a young lawyer.

When Pershing earned his bachelor of laws degree at UNL he toyed with the idea of leaving the Army to become a lawyer. Dawes advised Pershing to forget it. “Better lawyers than either you or I can ever hope to be are starving in Nebraska. I’d try the Army for a while yet. Your pay may be small, but it comes very regularly,” said Dawes.

Dawes was on General Pershing’s command staff in France as the general purchasing agent during the Great War. After the war, Dawes was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize and became President Calvin Coolidge’s vice president. Dawes and Pershing frequently socialized together. They remained friends for life until Pershing’s death in 1948.

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John J. Pershing and Charles Dawes became friends during their days in Lincoln, Nebraska in the 1890’s and remained close friends for life. This photo of the two men was taken outside Washington, D.C’s Union Station in the 1920’s.

 

 

 

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