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Death Certificate for Joseph Jack, World War I, c. 1918

Copy of Death Certificate of Joseph Jack

New York State Archives, NYSA_A0412-78_B08_F58_Jack
Document Description
Death certificate of Joseph Jack, World War I, c. 1918.
What role do you think buglers played in World War I?
What are bugles and drums used for in the military?
Why do you think the American Expeditionary Forces were victorious in World War I?
What positive leadership qualities made John J. Pershing an effective commander?
How do you think this death certificate for Joseph Jack made his family feel knowing that it came from Commander Pershing?
Historical Challenges
Create an illustrated timeline of the evolution of the bugle in the 19th century.
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: Make a chart of the victories and losses of the American Expeditionary Forces from 1917-1918.
English Language Arts: Write a letter from Jack Joseph’s family to Commander Pershing in response to his death certificate.
Pirtle, Scooter. Evolution of the Bugle: Evolution of the Military Bugle in the 19th Century. The Middle Horn Leader. 2010. Web.



About this Activity


Lesson Topic:

Historical Context
John J. Pershing is one of America’s most famous Army officers.  He was born in Missouri on September 13, 1860.  Pershing graduated from West Point in 1886 and served in the Spanish-American War, the Philippines Insurrection, and the Mexican Expedition, before becoming the overall American Commander in Europe during World War I.

In May 1917, General John Joseph "Black Jack" Pershing was designated the supreme commander of the American army in France, and the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) were created. Although the first American troops arrived in Europe in June 1917, the AEF did not fully participate at the front until October, when the First Division, one of the best-trained divisions of the AEF, entered the trenches at Nancy, France. Pershing wanted an American force that could operate independently of the other Allies, but his vision could not be realized until adequately trained troops with sufficient supplies reached Europe. Training schools in America sent their best men to the front, and Pershing also established facilities in France to train new arrivals for combat.  Pershing whipped an ill-prepared American military into an effective, disciplined, 2-million member fighting force in World War I and then led it to victory as its field commander.

By the time Germany signed the Armistice on November 11, 1918, the American Expeditionary Forces had evolved into a modern, combat-tested army recognized as one of the best in the world. 
In this document, Pershing is recognizing Bugler Joseph Jack for his sacrifice for the cause of his country.  Buglers played a key role in many wars including World War I.  The bugle has been used by the military during war time and peace time.

American military forces in Europe during World War I (1914-1918) were impressed by British and French drum and bugle corps. Inspired by the European corps, the American Legion was formed in 1919 for war veterans and soon after began forming drum and bugle corps in the United States. 

Originally, veterans formed impromptu drum corps after World War I as a way to celebrate patriotism. Over the course of many years, these groups developed into competitive units. Many were formed with the support of American Legion and/or Veterans of Foreign Wars posts. 
Essential Question
How are soldiers honored for their service?
Check for Understanding
How did Joseph Jack's commander view him?