General John J. Pershing, America's War Hero - When General John J. Pershing died on July 15, 1948 the nation mourned the loss of its greatest military hero and only living 6 star general. He was laid in state in the United States Capital Rotunda and buried at Arlington National Cemetery. A thousand miles away, the small town of Laclede Missouri reflected on its most famous son.
John Joseph Pershing, throughout his life known as "Jack" was born September 13th, 1860. The Pershing family moved into the house in Laclede when Jack was a young boy and stayed there until 1885. There is little in Pershing's boyhood history to suggest that one day he would become a national war hero. His typical boyhood included hunting, fishing and mischief making. Chores on the family's two farms introduced him to strenuous labor early in life. In the panic of 1873, the Pershings lost all their holdings with the exception of the home and one of the farms. Jack and his brother James gained the complete responsibility of the farm when their father took a job as a traveling salesman. Pershing also accepted a teaching position at Prairie Mound School and eventually saved enough money to attend Kirksville Normal School(now Truman State University), where he received his teaching degree in June 1880. He returned to Prairie Mound School until the fall of 1881. It was then that Pershing saw a newspaper article concerning the competitive exam for entrance into the US Military Academy at West Point. Pershing took the test on Oct 20, 1881, qualified and was nominated to West Point where he graduated in 1886.