About the Film

The Pershing Project goes beyond a documentary film. An initiative started by Ms. Sandra Pershing in the fall of 2015, the project aims to provide educational resources to schools, teachers, students, and anyone interested in learning about America’s involvement in World War I

A Different Approach to Storytelling


When Sandy Pershing commissioned the Pershing Project in 2015, she wanted to educate a younger audience on the life and accomplishments of General John J. Pershing and the American Doughboys of World War I. The challenge, was how to make a story about a group of men and women who lived over 100 years ago engaging and relevant, without the help of the actual subjects.

The production team, led by Director Joe Hartnett, and with the assistance of Oscar award winning documentarian Mark Jonathan Harris developed an approach that would meet Ms. Pershing's intent. The result was a film that tells a story about America a century ago, but is uniquely appropriate for today. Many of the social, political, and cultural issues that surrounded 1918 American society are still around in some way, shape, or form - and are addressed head on by a group of young, bright, charismatic young men and women.

These young American cadets follows General Pershing’s footsteps, from a small town in Missouri to the battlefields of France, learning why his leadership influences us today. Raised in the Midwest, General Pershing triumphed while commanding the American Expeditionary Forces that helped end World War I. However, his most significant accomplishment come in the wake of personal tragedy, losing his wife and three daughters in a fire in 1915. Pershing's approach to race relations was radical for his time. His 38 year military career brought him in close contact with African American Buffalo Soldiers, Mexicans, Native Americans, and the Muslim Moro tribes of the Philippines. He learned to admire each group for their merits, tenacity, and resolve - an admiration that was not shared by the vast majority of military and political leaders of the early 20th century. The cadets see Pershing as a role model for leaders today, with his admirable personal values of honor, acceptance, and integrity.