Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Great War: July 9, 1917

Donald Trump arrived in Paris this morning. He was invited by French president Emmanuel Macron to attend the celebration of Bastille Day tomorrow, July 14, but news coverage of the visit also notes that it is the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first U.S. soldiers in France to fight alongside French and British troops in the Great War. The latter fact is the inspiration for sharing today the order to the troops issued by Major General John J. Pershing, the commander of the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I. The order was quoted on the front page of the Hudson Evening Register for July 9. 1917.
For the first time in history an American army finds itself in European territory. The good name of the United States of America and the maintenance of cordial relations require the perfect deportment of each member of this command.
It is of the gravest importance that the soldiers of the American army shall at all times treat the French people, and especially the women, with the greatest courtesy and consideration. The valiant deeds of the French armies and the allies, by which they together have successfully maintained the common cause for three years, and the sacrifices of the civil population of France in support of their armies, command our profound respect. This can best be expressed on the part of our forces by uniform courtesies to all the French people and by the faithful observance of their laws and customs.
The intense cultivation of the soil in France under conditions caused by the war makes it necessary that extreme care be taken to do no damage to private property. The entire French manhood capable of bearing arms is in the field fighting the enemy, and it should, therefore, be a point of honor to each member of the American army to avoid doing the least damage to any property in France. Such conduct is much more reprehensible here. Honor them as those of our own country.
General John J. "Black Jack" Pershing

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