|General Pershing Greeted at Central Park|
Presented at American Past, 9 November 2015
By Jenny Tompson
[This has a terrific amount of little-seen photos and illustrations and a lot of interesting detail. Here's a bit to get you started. MH]
"The Heart of New York goes out to you," wrote mayor John F. Hylan in an "air letter" to General John J. Pershing (1860–1948) on 7 September 1919. The letter was dispatched from Manhattan by hydroplane and dropped aboard the SS Leviathan during its final days at sea. The ship was bringing the general home.
General Pershing had commanded the American Expeditionary Forces in France during World War I. He left the United States in June 1917, just months after the U.S. declared war against Germany on 6 April 1917. He would not return for more than two years.
Just months after the signing of the treaties that officially ended the war in June 1919—and after the numerous celebrations honoring Pershing that were held in France and England—Pershing sailed from Europe on the Leviathan, (a German ship seized by the U.S. in 1917). The troop ship had crossed the Atlantic many times during the war, transporting a large share of the more than two million American soldiers who would eventually serve in France. The ship's last voyage was the one that brought Pershing home, arriving in New York harbor in the early morning of 9 September 1919.
Millions of "loyal citizens of the great metropolis of the world," Hylan wrote to the general, "eagerly and impatiently await the opportunity to give their plaudits to the man through whose instrumentality the magnificent achievements of our armies were made possible."
The city was beside itself with excitement to welcome the valorous general back on American soil.
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