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Editorial Note on NBC Radio Speech
January 7, 1941
Speaking on January 7 over the N.B.C. radio network, Marshall described the army’s development in size and responsibility during the past year. “We now have a broad and sound foundation on which to build the larger forces ordered by the American people.” He acknowledged, however, that along with the gains there remained numerous deficiencies in materiel, the result of “years of public indifference to questions of national defense.” These problems could not be solved overnight, but the army was preparing the manpower. Capital and labor had to provide the equipment, and “public opinion must give its wholehearted support to the enterprise. Speed and unity are imperative.”
There were even certain unintended benefits for the individual and the nation from the mobilization, in the chief of staff’s opinion. Training would not only benefit men’s health and physique, but “a vital psychological gain should result from this service. The complete democracy of life in the ranks, the cultivation of respect for constituted authority, the acknowledgment of a responsibility for service to one’s country—those influences are bound to develop a fine citizenship. The intimate contacts will promote understanding among men from every section of this great country, and from every walk of life. Personally, I believe the best medicine for the ailments of democracy flows from association in a common effort. Our self-imposed military program provides that opportunity.” (Radio interview between General Marshall and Colonel J. C. O’Laughlin, January 7, 1941, GCMRL/ G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Speeches])
Marshall’s remarks brought an unexpected response from his Virginia Military Institute classmate Charles S. Roller, Jr., principal of the Augusta Military Academy in Virginia. Roller had happened to hear the speech from a storefront radio on a Washington, D.C., street. After the address, he commented to some young men in the crowd which had gathered that Marshall was “the kind of man we should have for the next President,” a statement which “certainly was given a very warm and approving reception.” Roller told Marshall that he would make a good president and wanted to “start the ball rolling” among the V.M.I. alumni toward a possible Marshall candidacy. (Roller to Marshall, January 11, 1941, GCMRL/ G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].) Marshall’s response to this idea follows.
Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr. (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), pp. 387-388.