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September 9, 1939 Uniontown, Pennsylvania
. . . I suppose I must make some reference to my present occupation in relation to the existing crisis in world affairs. I have necessarily been concerned during the past year with the successive steps toward the building up of a respectable posture of national defense. It is a highly involved subject, a problem of great expenditures, and of vital importance to us as a people. It happens, fortunately, that your distinguished Representative in Congress, Mr. Snyder, is the head of the Military Appropriations Committee of the House of Representatives, which leads in the determination of just what expenditures will be made for the Army and his patriotic interest, good will and cooperation have been of inestimable value to the War Department.2
We citizens of this country have been fortunate in the bountiful state of our natural resources, in the freedom for expansion, and in the strong individuality of our people. Today we should be fully conscious of our good fortune in having broad oceans to the east and west, peaceful cousins to the north of us, and a friendly nation along our southern frontier. We are a highly favored people, and yet the march of time, of invention, and of mechanical perfection have brought us for the first time into very close relationship with all the world.
I will not trouble you with the perplexities, the problems, and requirements for the defense of this country, except to say that the importance of this matter is so great and the cost, unfortunately, is bound to be so high, that all that we do should be planned and executed in a business-like manner, without emotional hysteria, demagogic speeches, or other unfortunate methods which will befog the issue and might mislead our efforts. Finally, it seems to me that we should daily thank the good Lord that we live where we do, think as we do, and enjoy blessings that are becoming rare privileges on this earth. . . .
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 flew to Uniontown, his childhood home, the afternoon of September 9, 1939 and was welcomed at the nearby Connellsville Airport by three thousand people. (Marshall to Brigadier General Carlos E. Black, September 11, 1939, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].) That evening he delivered this speech during a banquet given in his honor. Marshall recalled, “I told a great many stories of my youth in order to avoid anything in relation to the war situation.” (Marshall Interviews, p 65) Approximately 20 percent of this speech is printed here; another portion is printed in Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #1-007 [1: 8-9].
2. J. Buell Snyder, a Democrat who had represented the Twenty-fourth District in southwestern Pennsylvania since 1933, spoke to the gathering just prior to Marshall’s address.
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. 54-55.