Wednesday marked the 75th anniversary of the surprise attack on the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor. The United States’ formal declaration of war on December 8, 1941, dramatically altered the lives of all Americans, particularly those of the men and women who served in the armed forces. As the number of World War II veterans decreases every day, recognizing these men and women, to whom the country owes a tremendous debt of gratitude, by commemorating the date that the US entered the greatest conflict in history is an appropriate gesture and one of which General George C. Marshall would highly approve.
Like every other American, December 7, 1941, began as a typical Sunday morning for General Marshall. He was at home having lunch when he received the call that Pearl Harbor was under attack. Marshall responded by immediately going to his office and beginning the preparations for mobilizing the army for the enormous task that lay ahead. Similarly, as news of the attack spread across the country many Americans did not hesitate to demonstrate their willingness to serve their country by joining the armed forces.
Marshall had great confidence in the men and women serving in the army and frequently acknowledged their hard work and sacrifices when making public statements. During his speech for the Third War Loan Drive in September 1943 Marshall praised the army saying, “Our men are trained and are resolved to do their full part, to the sacrifice of life itself. The Army will not fail in skill and courage.” Following the end of the war Marshall again recognized the efforts of his soldiers in his final statement as chief of staff. Marshall said, “You were the greatest protective force this nation has ever known. In its direct hours you carried the might of America into action. You gave to the United States its rightful prestige among nations.”
Yesterday the Marshall Foundation partnered with the Rockbridge Commemoration Commission for World War I & World War II to host a viewing of Virginia’s 75th Anniversary Tribute to World War II Veterans taking place in Richmond. Like most communities Lexington is home to a number of World War II veterans and hosting the viewing enabled them to participate in the tribute without traveling. Each veteran was individually recognized and received a commemorative coin from the Virginia World War II Commission. The event brought much deserved attention to our local World War II veterans and reminded attendees that the country we live in today is a result of their sacrifices. General Marshall would certainly be pleased with the Marshall Foundation’s participation in such an important event.
The Marshall Foundation will be further exploring Marshall’s role in World War I and World War II through an exhibition and programs as part of the next sequence of the Marshall Legacy Series “The World Wars” which will run from January-August 2017. For further information please call 540-463-7103 or visit the Marshall Foundation website.