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Memorandum for Major McCarthy1
May 21, 1942 Washington, D.C.
With reference to Dr. Freeman’s letter about my keeping a memorandum of momentous daily happenings:2 My policy has been not to do this, for two reasons:
In the first place it tends to cultivate a state of mind unduly concerned with possible investigations, rather than a complete concentration on the business of victory.
Further, it continually introduces the factor of one’s own reputation, the future appreciation of one’s daily decisions, which leads, I feel, subconsciously to self-deception or hesitations in reaching decisions.
I realize that in the future I will probably be embarrassed by lack of factual evidence or contemporary notes regarding this and that phase of the war as influenced from my office. If I in any way propagated such thoughts, it would inevitably affect the clarity and logic of my daily approach to the changing situation.
G. C. M.
Document Copy Text Source: Frank McCarthy Papers, U.S. Army 1941-1945, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed memorandum signed.
1. Frank J. McCarthy, Jr. (V.M.I., 1933), was a Reserve officer who had volunteered for active duty in July 1940 to work for former V.M.I. commandant John Magruder in G-2. In June 1941 McCarthy became an assistant secretary of the General Staff and liaison officer between the General Staff and the White House. In 1935-36 he had worked for Richmond News Leader editor Douglas S. Freeman as a police reporter.
2. Freeman had written: “I am thinking of you every day as I prepare a succinct little memorandum for you on the basis of General [Robert E.] Lee’s experience. Because I think of you so frequently, I am wondering if you are putting away anywhere any memoranda of these tremendous days. I can understand that you would have misgiving about keeping a diary, but I hope you are preserving some memorabilia.” (Freeman to Marshall, May 19, 1942, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
Recommended Citation: ThePapers 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. 3, “The Right Man for the Job,” December 7, 1941-May 31, 1943 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), pp. 207-208.