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Pershing movie

World Premiere of Pershing's Paths of Glory Nov. 11 in Silver Spring, MD

Special to the United States World War I Centennial Commission web site

The World War I Centennial Commission presents the World Premiere of a documentary film about the great American Hero, General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing, on Sunday, November 11, 2018, 100 years after the Armistice ending the fighting in World War I on November 11, 1918.

In Pershing's Paths of Glory, a group of young cadets recruited nationwide follow General Pershing’s paths across the globe and provide insight into how Pershing's leadership can influence students today.

As General Pershing’s living legacy, they visit historic battlefields and trenches in France to learn about and experience his heroic deeds first-hand.

The cadets include:

  • Kevin Collins-Nelson, Pershing Rifleman; Raleigh-Durham North Carolina
  • Roberto Duran, Pershing Rifleman (U.S. Air Force Special Forces Pilot); Fort Worth, Texas
  • Victoria-Rose Reid, Pershing Angel; Atlanta, Georgia
  • John Branch, Blackjack; Augusta, Georgia
  • David Poe, Former Captain, U.S. Army, Purple Heart/Bronze Star w/Valor, Afghanistan; Denver, Colorado

In 1894, Lieutenant Pershing revived a disheartened ROTC drill squad at the University of Nebraska. These Varsity Rifles were reorganized and trained by General Pershing with the discipline of a fighting unit, and they eventually won the national drill competition. After General Pershing left to teach at West Point, the group renamed themselves The Pershing Rifles. In mid-20th Century, two related programs were founded, a female collegiate sorority called the Pershing Angels and a high school organization called the Blackjacks.

Raised in Laclede, Missouri, General Pershing rose to the highest rank America has ever established, General of the Armies of the United States. He experienced triumph in commanding the American Expeditionary Forces of over three million Doughboys to important victories that helped end World War One. But he also endured unimaginable personal tragedy, losing his beloved wife and three daughters in a house fire.

General Pershing formulated military policy still in effect today, such as the first successful counter-insurgency campaign leading to a lasting peace with the Islamic Moro tribe in the Philippines. He also led African-American troops three times - on the American Frontier, in Cuba with Teddy Roosevelt, and against Pancho Villa in Mexico. Significantly, he founded the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) which built Memorials and Cemeteries in Europe where our American soldiers are laid to rest.

Observing General Pershing’s unique brand of multi-cultural respect, the young cadets come to understand why many consider him to be an early advocate of civil rights. Certainly, his racial empathy for Black Buffalo Soldiers, Mexicans, Native Americans, and Muslim Moros sets him distinctly apart as a role model for leaders today with his admirable personal values of honor, acceptance, and integrity.

Also attending the Premiere and participating on a post-screening panel with the cadets listed earlier include Sandra S. Pershing, Granddaughter-in-Law of General Pershing, Executive Producer, New York, New York; Dayle Hartnett, Ph.D., Producer & Joe Hartnett, Director, Pacific Palisades, California; Jack Lichtenstein, Pershing Rifles Pledge Brother of John Pershing III, (the General's Grandson); Colonel U.S. Army (Ret.), Bronze Star, Gulf War; Washington, D.C.; and, Alfred Valenzuela, Major General U.S. Army (Ret.), Panel Moderator and Event Emcee, San Antonio, Texas.

The film premiere takes place at the American Film Institute and Cultural Center, AFI Silver 1 Theater, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, Maryland. $8 general admission. "Pershing Circle" Ticketsare available for $100, which include a pre-screening catered reception, and a donation to the World War I Memorial.

To purchase tickets, visit