The term “six degrees of separation” is the idea that everything in the world is six or fewer steps away from being connected to each other. The George C. Marshall Legacy Series exhibition Six Degrees of Marshall, opening January 19th, uses an infographic to connect Marshall to people and programs important to the course, conduct and consequences of the two largest conflicts in human history: World War I and World War II. Through various connections, it will examine how George. C. Marshall both shaped, and was shaped by, his experience of combat in France during World War I and show how those lessons learned, and hard won, would ultimately fashion how he would go on to fight and win in World War II.
The individuals who led in World War II—Marshall, Patton, MacArthur, Churchill, Roosevelt, Truman—were involved in World War I. Their direct involvement in the first war informed their leadership and the decisions they made in the second. Marshall evolved from a battle planner and logistics genius into a global military strategist drawing on the knowledge and experience of coalition warfare and fighting on a global scale. As chief of staff of the U.S. Army during World War II, he operated both at the helm of the US military and behind the scenes, establishing his reputation as the “organizer of victory” and as an indispensable man of World War II.
The exhibition Six Degrees of Marshall will not only map out Marshall’s connections to individuals who shaped him but those he selected to lead during World War II. The exhibition will also feature artifacts on loan from the MacArthur Memorial, General George S. Patton’s engraved pistol from the Virginia Military Institute Museum, a D-Day map carried ashore by General Leonard Gerow, and World War I artifacts from the Marshall Museum’s own collection.