5-276 Speech to the Salvation Army, November 18, 1945

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: November 18, 1945

Subject: Postwar

Speech to the Salvation Army1

November 18, 1945 Kansas City, Missouri

It has been a matter of regret to me that during the war years I did not find it possible to visit this region. It is only now, as the end of my active service draws to a close, that I have found the opportunity. Almost 40 years ago I arrived here en route to Fort Leavenworth via service in Oklahoma from a tour of duty in the Philippines. I became quite familiar with these surroundings and had many friends in Kansas City, which was to the young officers at Leavenworth the great center of culture and pleasure towards which we looked for interest and diversion. After the last war I accompanied General Pershing and Marshal Foch to the Legion Convention held here in 1921. On that occasion I recall that Foch questioned me regarding the history of the old Fort whose ruins he noticed at Fort Leavenworth. I explained to him that in the years when this nation’s frontiers were being pushed westward by the men and women, whose hardy courage gave us the heritage of modern America, Leavenworth was a frontier outpost; that it was near there that many of the wagon trains organized to face the perils of the continental crossing.

It occurs to me today that in more recent years Leavenworth has provided the leaders who played a determining part in halting the Huns in 1918 and in the liberation of Europe and Asia in 1945. In other words, the land battles of Europe and the Pacific were first won here in the heart of America. MacArthur, Eisenhower, Arnold, Bradley, and a long list of our great commanders, were developed on the heights overlooking the Missouri River at Fort Leavenworth.

I found my opportunity for this visit today largely because of a very real desire to participate in this 80th Anniversary of the Salvation Army and in particular to pay my tribute to Commander Evangeline Booth. To me she has represented a pinnacle of womanhood among those whose contribution to humanity is of supreme importance to this distracted world. Her charm of personality, her intensity of benevolent purpose and her outstanding ability as a leader of people, have marked her apart as one of the great figures of this country and of the world at large.

Some 65 years ago her father landed in New York, the sole representative of this great Army of peace and mercy, with the benevolent purpose and firm determination to invade America, to spread the influence of the Salvation Army the length and breadth of this country. The proportions of his plan seemed beyond the realm of possibility, yet they were completely realized, and today we honor his daughter.

There has always existed among professional soldiers of our Army a special regard for the men and women of the Salvation Army. We understand and greatly admire their standards of loyalty and discipline and their simplicity and selfless devotion to duty. They had a special claim upon the affections of the veterans of the old American Expeditionary Forces and they have much the same claim on the veterans of the great forces we are now in process of demobilizing.

We owe a great debt of gratitude to the members of the Salvation Army for their work during the past terrible years. I say we, meaning the people at large as well as the Army. Their work had a tremendous influence on morale, which is the most vital quality of the individual soldier and of the military unit. There is one quality of greatness that a soldier appreciates perhaps more than any other, that is, the selfless willingness to be of service to others without thought of personal reward or danger. I was particularly conscious of this quality in the service of the Salvation Army during the first World War when I was brought into intimate contact with the individual workers in the field. Colonel Allan here is an old friend of mine from First Division days in the AEF. I saw him at the front and I saw his people, men and women, accept all the hardships and hazards of service in campaign.2

On behalf of the veterans of the old AEF and our great global Armies, I salute and congratulate the Salvation Army on its 80th Anniversary.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Because of the part which the Salvation Army has played in the welfare of the armed forces during war, I think of it as an inseparable part of our efforts to give mankind security and to establish world peace in this new era of atomic power. We enter an age when peace must no longer be considered merely a dream of men. It must somehow be made a lasting reality.

More than ever before this nation must make a solemn and determined effort to secure the peace of the world. Men and women of heart like the valiant souls of the Salvation Army must be vigorous in impressing the inescapable truth that only by true strength, by determined leadership and in confidence that we strive for what is right, can we hope in these troubled times to exert a determining influence on the future stability of the world.

The President and the leaders of our Allied Nations are striving to establish practical methods by which this can be achieved. They have proposed an organization of the United Nations to strive toward this end. They have more recently suggested that these United Nations seek to find some way to make the tremendous factor of atomic power a boon to mankind rather than its destroyer.

The President believes, and I agree with him completely that these united efforts can only be successful, if those who desire most to make them successful insure for themselves a quiet and righteous strength. He has proposed a practical method for us to maintain that strength which we feel is absolutely necessary to nourish the new United Nations organization.

Almost all concede that America courts disaster for herself and for the world if she again falls into a state of disinterested weakness and fails to fulfil her responsibility. But few realize, I feel certain, that the entire allied world looks to us for leadership, for guidance in the practical business of vitalizing the influence, the power, of the United Nations Organization.

Some of our citizens express concern that the specific measure proposed by the President may in some way prejudice the religious or the moral and social strength of the United States. We must first be morally and spiritually sound before we can be militarily strong. But I am certain that if those who question the proposal will consider the facts they must come to realize that such measures as universal military training will strengthen the spiritual and moral fiber of our people rather than weaken it.

To insure that the desires, the will of the people shall dominate in these matters, the Secretary of War has recently recommended to Congress that a permanent civilian commission composed of leaders in spiritual, education and social welfare work be set up with the responsibility to determine the policy in these fields for the direction and guidance of the military authorities.

In time of war military necessity required that the Army establish policies concerning the social and moral welfare of our troops. But in time of peace the situation concerning young men inducted for training only, is quite different. The guidance in such matters presents a problem of tremendous long-range importance to the nation as a whole. I therefore believe that the creation of such a civilian commission composed of leading educators and churchmen of all faiths—Catholic, Protestant and Jewish—and outstanding leaders in the field of social and moral welfare to determine the policies for these phases of our Army training program, would insure that the wishes of the people, the parents, would be fully represented in a determining manner.

I am inclined to think that our principal trouble in reaching a decision in regard to these important matters is the confused state of the public mind which results from the tremendous aftermath of six years of global war—the vast demobilization now in progress, the chaotic state of affairs in most of Europe and Asia that stems from years of unparalleled destruction and death.

We lack at the moment a proper perspective. We see the peaceful countryside of America unscarred by war, and here in the Mississippi Valley in particular, you are most remote from violent scenes of war. We are busily engaged in welcoming home each month a million and a half of our young men returning to their normal civil occupations. We simply cannot comprehend the disruption of governments, and the complete destruction of cities and of homes, that has taken place in the world. We read the discussions in the press and listen to the descriptions and opinions on the radio but these give us only a remote appreciation of the chaotic state of the world beyond the boundaries of continental United States.

In Germany we have a country of destroyed cities and communications, a country whose civil or dictatorial government, which dominated every phase of German life for many years, was completely swept from power, leaving for the time being virtually a vacuum. We have there a country flooded with hopeless and homeless people from other parts of Europe; a confusion of desires; a confusion of peoples; a situation almost unparalleled in the history of the world.

In complete contrast to the scenes in Germany, we have in Japan a government, headed by the emperor, still in being, and apparently endeavoring to the best of its ability to carry out the directives of General MacArthur. An Army of 2_ million Japanese soldiers undefeated in battle has been demobilized. The Allied prisoners have been rescued and moved out of the country. The leaders responsible for the various war crimes have generally been incarcerated and are awaiting trial. The problem of fuel and food has been carefully surveyed and while exceedingly difficult of solution, it is being handled in a businesslike manner. True, the destruction of cities has been as complete as it was in Germany; but on the other hand the civil government remains in operation, whereas in Germany it has had to be completely reconstructed from the ground up.

In China, torn to ribbons by more than a decade of war and the rapine of the invader, a Japanese Army of a million men is still present in the country. From the press and the radio we form some conclusions regarding the difficult and dangerous situation between the Communist and the Nationalist forces but I doubt if there are any but a few in America who realize the true state of China and how difficult it is to reestablish order and a return to normal ways of life.

In Korea we have an extraordinary situation, ill-judged I am quite certain by most of our people. For more than 40 years that country has been dominated, ruled and administered by the Japanese with the result that the Koreans themselves have now to start from the beginning to learn to direct their own affairs. In the meantime, a comparatively small number of American soldiers are endeavoring to bring order out of chaos, to meet the natural desires of the freed Koreans after their years of bondage, and to handle large numbers of Japanese soldiers and civilians. Various political groups are now struggling for control in Korea, all of recent origin which in most cases can be measured in weeks. The problem is one of magnitude for the military administrators and I personally have been greatly impressed by the manner in which they are carrying out their extraordinarily difficult tasks. Fortunately the evacuation of the Japanese is being rapidly effected across the narrow waters of Tsushima Straits.

Indonesia presents problems of the most complex and perplexing nature. Fortunately for us, American troops are not involved. The transition in Indo-China has been exceedingly troublesome with a number of unfortunate incidents. I am hopeful that the major troubles are a thing of the past.

Formosa is just being taken over, Chinese troops having landed on the north end of the island. They are confronted with a very large problem in disarming some 250,000 Japanese troops.

Small Japanese garrisons throughout the Pacific are being evacuated to their homeland and gradually these islands are being brought under the calm, peaceful control of the Allies. Were it possible in all of these localities to accomplish the immediate evacuation of the Japanese soldiery most of the problems would be much more simple of solution, but the shipping is not yet available.

In the midst of this restive, almost chaotic world to confuse our thinking, we have our immediate local problems that fill the daily headlines—the pressure of demobilization, the settlement of labor disputes, the reconversion of industries and the sharpening of political antagonisms. Is it any wonder that the public mind is in a state of profound confusion?

Yet at no time in our history, I think, has it been more important that the people make a sober, common-sense, survey of the situation and reach an early decision as to our policies with relation to the world and particularly with regard to the future maintenance of peace. The necessity for this is clearly indicated by the very turbulence and confusion of the times and even more by the distracted people of devastated Europe and Asia who all look to us for evidence of a firm determination to give powerful leadership to the purpose of the United Nations Organization to consolidate the victory for the security and stability of the world. They do not view us with suspicion as to our motives. They trust and like our soldiers. They probably have an exaggerated conception of our strength in resources, in our capacity to get things done and in our strength as a nation. As a consequence we have virtually been elected by the acclimation of the harassed and suffering people of the world to the leadership of the greatest and most beneficent movement in world history for the good of mankind.

I do not think the statesman will decide the issue, nor the politician, certainly not – the military leaders. The returning veteran, especially those who will carry through life the scars and mutilations they have suffered in our behalf. Personally I am convinced that the women of America, the wives and mothers of our men will cast the determining vote. They more than any other group have suffered the mental anguish and tragedy of war. The decision will be largely theirs.

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Speeches, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed draft.

1. Marshall spoke to a large crowd in Kansas City’s Municipal Auditorium. The Bureau of Public Relations had urged him to speak at the Chicago convention of the American Legion on this date, but Marshall elected to speak to the Salvation Army. (Shepley Memorandum for General Marshall, October 22, 1945, and Marshall to John J. Allan, October 25, 1945, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].)

2. John J. Allan was commander of the Salvation Army’s Central Territory (eleven states in the north central region). He had been senior chaplain of the Seventy-seventh Division in France during World War I and had also been an army chaplain during World War II.

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. 5, “The Finest Soldier,” January 1, 1945-January 7, 1947 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), pp. 357-363.

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