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Editorial Note on Marshall as Time Magazine’s “Man of the Year”
January 3, 1944
Appearing on the January 3, 1944, cover of Time magazine, General Marshall was named “Man of the Year” as a tribute for having transformed a “worse-than-disarmed U.S. into the world’s most effective military power.” Time praised Marshall for seven achievements since assuming the office of chief of staff: (1) building the army from two hundred thousand in 1939; (2) planning a training program and equipment schedule unmatched anywhere; (3) holding off “hastily planned or ill-advised military operations”; (4) insisting on unity of command in Allied forces; (5) refusing to send out green and ill-equipped troops; (6) recognizing early the importance of air power and promoting the air program; and (7) breaking the “traditionally supercilious War Department enmity toward innovations of equipment. New ordnance gets Marshall’s immediate attention.” The magazine said of Marshall: “The American people do not, as a general rule, like or trust the military. But they like and trust George Marshall. This is no more paradoxical than the fact that General Marshall hates war. The secret is that American democracy is the stuff Marshall is made of.” Crediting Marshall with being the “link between the biggest military establishment in U.S. history and the U.S. people,” he was “the closest thing to ‘the indispensable man.'” According to Time, “never in U.S. history has a military man enjoyed such respect on Capitol Hill.” Marshall, Time concluded, “had armed the Republic. He had kept faith with the people. In a general’s uniform, he stood for the civilian substance of this democratic society.” (Time 43 [January 3, 1944] : 15-18.)
Life magazine also published an article in its January 3 issue which praised Marshall’s achievements as chief of staff. “Marshall’s prestige seems to be in direct ratio to his tendency to self-effacement. He preserves a barrier of reserve which few persons have crossed. He has many friends, but no really intimate ones. His associates do not claim to comprehend all facets of his personality.” Life, too, wrote of Marshall’s popularity on Capitol Hill: “Members of both Houses and both parties trust him as they trust no other witness, being persuaded he has no axes to grind, no personal ambitions, no motives save the welfare of the Army and the safety of the U.S. At hearings he is never mysterious or pompous, egotistical or dramatic. His candor is disarming, his veracity unquestionable. He avoids politics and oratorical clichés.” The article insisted that “wherever Marshall may find himself in 1944, there is no doubt that he will remain the nation’s No. 1 soldier.” (Lincoln Barnett, “General Marshall,” Life 16 [January 3, 1944] : 50–54, 57–58, 60, 62; quotes on pp. 51–52.)
“I believe that the New Year will be one of great decisions for us,” Marshall replied to a congratulatory letter. This was an understatement. (Marshall to Douglas S. Freeman, December 31, 1943, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].) As the year 1944 commenced, General Marshall faced an enormous responsibility; preparing for the cross-Channel invasion, fighting the Italian campaign, planning Pacific strategy, and coordinating strategy in Southeast Asia—all while confronting a manpower shortage.
Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981– ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 4, “Aggressive and Determined Leadership,” June 1, 1943–December 31, 1944 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), pp. 231–232.