On August 1, 1937, WWI General John “Black Jack” Pershing dedicated the American memorial in Montfaucon, France that honored the U.S. and French soldiers who died fighting in the 1918 Battle of the Meuse-Argonne. As he reflected on the pivotal battle of the Great War, Pershing delivered one of the greatest military speeches in American history. Listen and watch it in the video below.
We are thrilled to report that “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War” has been honored with an Impact DOCS Award of Excellence in this year’s international documentary feature category. The Impact DOCS judges based their decision on the documentary’s quality, creativity, and technical execution. ” These skilled filmmakers highlighted issues ranging from renewable energy to gun violence and important historical events. The judges honor them for their passion and expert filmmaking craft,” the judges said.
The award-winning documentary “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War,” tells the story of World War I General John J. Pershing’s life and the personal tragedy so painful Pershing could never speak of it.
The Impact DOCS judges said this year’s winners represent filmmakers whose experiences range from Oscar winners to first-time filmmakers and who hail from all corners of the globe. “They (the winning filmmakers) make a – made a huge IMPACT entertaining audiences and bringing awareness to the critical issues of our times,” said Impact DOCS officials.
Please join us at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, August 2 at the National WWI Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri.
It’s a free screening and discussion of “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War.” To reserve your free tickets click on this link.
General John J. Pershing, a Missouri native, rose to global recognition with an illustrious military career that included the Allied victory in WWI. Drawn from personal papers, archival photographs and film, the award-winning documentary Black Jack Pershing: Love and War tells the story of Pershing’s military career and his personal life, including tragedies seldom examined.
Today was a first among our national screenings of “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War.” The audience at the Nebraska National Guard Museum in Seward included living reenactors of WWI General John J. Pershing, President Teddy Roosevelt, and WWII General George Patton.
There was a real-life lieutenant general in the audience too- Lieutenant General Timothy J. Kadavy, director of the U.S. Army National Guard attended the standing room only screening of our documentary about General Pershing’s life.
It’s always special to screen the documentary in Nebraska where Pershing spent many formative years of his life.
In the 1890’s, Army Lieutenant, Pershing spent four years commanding the student Cadet Corps at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln while earning a law degree.
Pershing’s two sisters, May and Grace, attended UNL too. They spent their post-college lives living and working in Lincoln. They also helped care for General Pershing’s young son Warren between 1915-1920.
How come? Pershing’s wife Frankie and the couple’s three young daughters were killed in a fire at the commandant’s residence at the Presidio in San Francisco, California in August of 1915. At the time, Brigadier General Pershing was on duty more than a thousand miles away at Fort Bliss, Texas. Pershing was sent there amid rumors that Mexican Revolutionary General Pancho Villa was actively planning to lead his troops in a raid against El Paso. Six-year-old Warren, the only survivor of the fire, came to Lincoln to live with General Pershing’s sisters.
Seven months later, Pancho Villa and his soldiers attacked Columbus, New Mexico, killing 18 Americans and burning down much of the town. Villa was furious with the town because two merchants there reneged on a promise to deliver weapons that Villa had already paid. President Woodrow Wilson sent General Pershing to retaliate in March 1916. Pershing lead 10,000 U.S. soldiers, chasing the elusive Villa, who knew his way through the difficult terrain of northern Mexico. Villa and his retreating raiders were pursued by Pershing and his soldiers across the border and 400 miles into Mexico where Pershing spent much of the next year before being ordered home. Because of the Mexican government’s dislike of Pershing’s presence on Mexican soil, it proved increasingly dangerous and impossible to capture Villa.
Between 1917 and 1920, Pershing and his son were again separated. General Pershing was ordered by President Wilson to sail for France to command 2-million U.S. soldiers.
Over the next 18-months, Pershing’s American Expeditionary Forces helped to turn the WWI battle tide in favor of the Allies along Europe’s Western Front and helped force a surrender by Germany in late 1918.
During the hunt for Pancho Villa and later in WWI, Pershing regularly wrote letters to Warren back in Lincoln, describing how dearly he missed and loved his son.
In the years after WWI, Pershing was a frequent visitor to Lincoln. He owned a home there, spent time with his sisters and friends, was touted as a potential University of Nebraska chancellor, and explored the possibility he might run for the U.S. presidency. Pershing later decided his chances were slim for a White House run and steered clear of elected politics.
Pershing also enjoyed fishing and hunting with friends in rural Nebraska. It was an opportunity to break free of the busy life he led in Washington, D.C. and where Pershing spent most of his life until his death at age 87 in 1948.
My sincere thanks to Jerry Meyer and Cody Cade at the Nebraska National Guard Museum for helping coordinate and screen today’s showing of “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War” in Seward.
The museum is a treasure for Nebraska and a “must see” stop for anyone of any age interested in military history.
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.
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.
My 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.
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.
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.
(La Jolla, CA, June 2018) – The Accolade Global Film Competition has named “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War” as one of this year’s top documentaries. The documentary won an “Award of Excellence Special Mention” from the Accolade judges who noted the documentary’s “skillfully woven narrative with historic photos and video.”
The awards go to filmmakers, television producers and videographers who produce fresh, standout entertainment and compelling documentaries. The Accolade is an international awards competition that honors those who demonstrate exceptional achievement in craft and creativity.
On Friday, June 8th, the Society of Professional Journalists presented Bernard “Barney” McCoy, Christine Lesiak, Luis-Peon Casanova, and Paul Pytlowany with the national Sigma Delta Chi Award for excellence in journalism for the documentary “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War.”
The Sigma Delta Chi Awards ceremony was held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The awards recognize the best in professional journalism in categories covering print, radio, television, newsletters, art/graphics, online and research.
The Sigma Delta Chi judges praised the documentary for its meticulous research and revelations about General Pershing’s personal life that was an important part of his historic career. “Truly a work of distinction,” wrote the judges. “While production borrowed more than a page from Ken Burns, they did so in expert fashion and it didn’t seem gimmicky in the least. An enthralling piece of documentary filmmaking.”
“Black Jack Pershing: Love and War” tells the life story of Gen. John J. Pershing whose roots ran deep in 20th century America. He commanded 2 million U.S. troops that helped win World War I and changed the world. America became a global superpower, and Pershing rose to be his nation’s highest-ranking military officer. But hidden beneath Pershing’s iron exterior was a man who endured great personal tragedy and heartbreak.
Bernard “Barney” McCoy, producer of the documentary, is a professor of broadcasting in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Luis Peon-Casanova, primary videographer on the project, is an assistant professor of practice in broadcasting in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Christina Lesiak, an award-winning story consultant on the project, is an executive producer at NET, Nebraska’s PBS station.
Paul Pytlowany, primary video editor on the project, is a senior videographer and production manager at CBS Detroit
“Black Jack Pershing: Love and War” is a co-production of McCoy’s Painted Rock Productions and NET, Nebraska’s PBS station. Production support for the documentary was provided by the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. It received funding from Lowell Vestal, Sandra S. Pershing, Humanities Nebraska, University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Research Council, and the Gilbert M. and Martha H. Hitchcock Foundation.
For more information contact: PershingLoveandWar@gmail.com
All rights reserved. 2017 Painted Rock Productions, LLC
This weekend took the “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War” documentary tour on the road to Laclede, Missouri, the birthplace of General John J. Pershing.
My thanks to the Missouri State Parks and Missouri Department of Natural Resources for hosting my visit to the Gen. John J. Pershing Boyhood Home State Historic Site.
On Saturday the site hosted a solemn Blessing of Poppies Ceremony. For centuries poppies have symbolized the battlefield sacrifices of soldiers. They were immortalized in this famous WWI poem by British Lt. Col. John McCrae.
In Flanders Fields
By John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row by row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard among the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If yea break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Soil collected from the eight American WWI cemeteries in Europe, where more than one million U.S. soldiers fought, was blessed and transferred to a new WWI Commemorative Garden being built at the Pershing Boyhood Home site.
The sacred soil was cast into the garden where the first poppies have been sown and are now in bloom. The finished garden will be dedicated this September as part of General Pershing’s 158th birthday weekend.
As the visiting crowd looked on Saturday, VFW members and a military color guard fired a cannon volley, followed by a 21-gun salute, and the playing of “Taps” in honor of the roughly 117,000 Americans who died in service to their country during the Great War.
Native Americans from the Cherokee Nation and Muscogee Nation, whose members also fought and died in WWI also spoke and sang at the memorial dedication event.
On Sunday, another group of more than 100 people attended a free viewing of “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War,” the award-winning documentary on Pershing’s life, at the Reel Time Cinema in neighboring Brookfield, Missouri.
Afterward, audience members asked me questions about Pershing’s pivotal role as commander of the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe and America’s critical decision to enter WWI in April 1917. At the time, victory was far from certain for America and its French and British allies.
Ultimately, America’s involvement in the war gave the Allies a numerical and tactical advantage that helped turn the battle tide, forced a German surrender, and brought an end to the fighting on November 11, 1918.
It was an honor to screen my documentary on General Pershing’s life in the place where America’s only active-duty six-star general was born and raised.
A special thanks to Denzil Heaney, administrator of the Pershing Boyhood Home State Historic Site, the many volunteers who helped plan and staff this weekend’s events, and the many veterans and active duty military members who have served their country in the past and still today.
World War I General John “Black Jack” Pershing commanded more than 2-million American troops in Europe a century ago.
More than 117,000 U.S. soldiers died in the Great War.
During the 100th anniversary year of the WWI armistice when America honors the men and women who died serving in the U.S. military, this video illustrates Pershing’s insistence that his American soldiers who died serving their nation never be forgotten.
We had a great screening of our documentary on WWI General John Pershing at the National Archives yesterday as Memorial Day weekend approaches and America honors the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military.
We screened the documentary in the National Archives McGowan theater to an audience that filled about two-thirds of the beautiful historic theater.
The audience asked great questions afterward about America’s important role in World War 1 and about General Pershing – Questions about Pershing’s life after the Great War, about the challenges facing America as a late entrant into the war, about Germany and the Allies attempts to employ code breakers to spy on each other’s troop positions, strategies, and movements in the war.
The audience members were very receptive to our award-winning documentary on Pershing’s life.
A very special thanks to our hosts, the National Archives, and the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission.
Historian, Pershing author, and good friend Mitch Yockelson helped moderate the audience discussion after the screening of the documentary. Mitch and I have worked together on past screenings of the Pershing documentary. Yockelson’s always a very knowledgeable delight to work with.
We’re pleased to announce that “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War” is now available to rent or own on Amazon Prime. Click here to go to the Amazon Prime page for the documentary on the life of WWI General John J. Pershing.
Amazon Prime members may watch the award-winning documentary for free as part of their annual or monthly memberships. Please watch our historic documentary about John J. Pershing and leave a viewer’s review to share your thoughts about the documentary.
The next stop for public screenings of “Black Jack Pershing: Love and War” will be on Sunday, June 3nd at the Gen. John J. Pershing Boyhood Home State Historic Site in beautiful Laclede, Missouri. Hope you can join us.