On Monday, June 21, it felt like 105 degrees Fahrenheit at Arlington National Cemetery. Cathy DeSilvey and I know, because we were there, visiting the graves of those for whom we hold collections at the George C. Marshall Foundation. We wanted to pay our respects, but also get photos of each headstone, as they hold valuable information for researchers.
We visited with codebreakers William and Elizebeth Smith Friedman, and wonder what they might think of a Coast Guard cutter named after Elizebeth.
Master Sgt. James Powder, Marshall’s chauffeur and go-to helper, is interred in a beautiful Columbarium area.
Of course we paid our respects to General Marshall, Katherine and Lily.
Cathy and I sat in the shade there for a while. It was such a quiet, pleasant setting and I don’t think Katherine would have minded. Marshall’s headstone doesn’t have any laudatory words; it only lists his positions very plainly.
Not all of the monuments at Arlington are graves; here’s an oak tree planted for the 50th anniversary of the Marshall Plan.
There’s also a street named for Marshall in the cemetery.
Some of the headstones for important generals are the plain markers supplied to those buried in national cemeteries:
Some markers are for multiple family members:
A reverent pause at the Tomb of the Unknown and watching the exacting changing of the guard is necessary in a trip to Arlington National Cemetery.
The amphitheater connected to the Tomb of the Unknown has held many Memorial Day ceremonies.
Marshall spoke there on Memorial Day in 1950.
Our final stop was at the grave of British Field Marshal John Dill, liaison to the U.S. Joint Chiefs during World War II. He and Marshall worked closely together and became friends.
Dill died in Washington, D.C. in 1944. Several years later, Marshall headed an effort to have a monument placed on his grave. It is one of two equestrian statues in Arlington National Cemetery.
Cathy and I had a long, very hot day at Arlington National Cemetery, and we walked about nine miles; but we are so glad that we got to go. It would be a grave mistake to consider the boxes we have in the Marshall Foundation Library “collections,” and forget that they represent the experiences and memories of people.
George Marshall 1950 Memorial Day speech ACME photo.
Melissa has been at GCMF since Fall 2019, and previously was an academic librarian specializing in history. She and her husband, John, have three grown children, and live in Rockbridge County with their large rescue dogs. Keep up with her @MelissasLibrary