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Memorandum for the President
September 6, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]
The present morale situation in the troops of the Army, resulting from the debates in Congress, as well as press and radio activities, presents a very difficult problem. While the troops in 90% of the organizations have weathered the storm in excellent shape—as a matter of fact in every instance where we have had good leadership in the higher command—nevertheless the home influence presents a continuing difficulty. Parents have been so confused as to the facts or logic of the situation and so influenced by what they read of a critical nature that something must be done to bring them to an understanding of the national emergency and of the necessity for a highly trained Army.1
Within the War Department organization we are doing our best to counteract this weakness on the home-front, but as it relates to the civil population, I recommend that this phase of the matter be taken in hand by the Civilian Defense organization, to which it was assigned. In my opinion, Mr. President, prompt action is necessary.2
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed memorandum.
1. Marshall had emphasized the importance of the home in bolstering army morale in a message published in the August 1941 Ladies’ Home Journal “Morale and physical fitness are attributes of a good soldier. In this new Army of ours we are paying a great deal of attention to both, as each supplements the other. . . Our men are not being called upon to endure rigors for which they are unprepared—they have been trained and conditioned during the past months like athletes. No detail affecting their health and well-being has been overlooked. Their religious welfare has been most carefully provided for and is the subject of continuous inspection. Morale matters in general are under constant supervision. The hardships the men in training will be called upon to bear will probably not require as much of courage as this period of separation from their families. The training they are receiving is vital to our security, and encouragement from home is vital to their morale.” (George C. Marshall, “A Message to the Women of America,” Ladies’ Home Journal 58[August 1941]: 6.)
2. In an effort to counter the problem of impaired army morale, on August 19, 1941, the War Department had named a civilian, Frederick H. Osborn, as chief of the Morale Branch with the temporary rank of brigadier general. (New York Times, August 20, 1941, p. 1.)
The Office of Civilian Defense had been established by executive order on May 20, 1941, to coordinate national, state, and local civilian defense activities. It was directed “to facilitate constructive civilian participation in the defense program, and to sustain national morale.” (Executive Order No. 8757.) New York City Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia had been appointed director of the office. For President Roosevelt’s reply, see the note to Memorandum for the President, September 25, 1941, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #2-556 [2: 618-19].
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. 601-602.