July 4th, 1917, one hundred years ago today.

Gen. John Pershing had arrived in France on June 13th and the advance units of his force had disembarked on June 27th. So, on the fourth it seemed appropriate for a parade, so members of the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry, 1st Division marched through the streets of Paris, greeted by cheering throngs.

On the same day Pershing and his senior staff paid a visit to the tomb of the Marquis de Lafayette in the Picpus Cemetery.  Lieut. Col. Charles Stanton, the newly-appointed Chief Disbursing Officer for the American Expeditionary Force, delivered an address for Pershing, and wreathes were laid. Stanton’s speech was lengthy, and only the final paragraph is remembered. Here it is:

‘America has joined forces with the Allied Powers, and what we have of blood and treasure are yours. Therefore it is that with loving pride we drape the colors in tribute of respect to this citizen of your great republic. And here and now, in the presence of the illustrious dead, we pledge our hearts and our honor in carrying this war to a successful issue. Lafayette, we are here’.

James (“Jim”) Patton BS BA MPA is a retired state official living in Shawnee, Kansas and a frequent contributor to several WW1 e-publications, including “Roads to the Great War,” “St. Mihiel Tripwire,” “Over the Top” and “Medicine in the First World War.” He has spent many hours walking the WW1 battlefields, and is also an authority on British regiments and a collector of their badges.
An Army Engineer during the Vietnam War, he does work for the US World War 1 Centennial Commission and has memberships in the WW1 Historical Association, the Western Front Association, the Indian Military Historical Society and the Salonika Campaign Society.