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Statement for Life Magazine
July 13, 1940 [Washington, D.C.]
The War Department considers some form of compulsory selective service and training as essential to our system of national defense, and pressingly necessary in the present international situation. It is a scientific, a democratic, and an economical method for maintaining a defensive force.1 It is my belief, out of the experience of the last World War and a recent intimate association with the Civilian Conservation Corps, that such a system would be tremendously effective in improving our citizenship.
The Burke-Wadsworth Bill, with minor modifications, proposes a satisfactory system for selective service. In the first step it would be necessary to mobilize the National Guard and Reserve officers to assist the Regular Army in the task of training the individuals to be selected.
The immediate adoption of some such method for increasing the strength of our armed forces is vital to our security.2
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed draft.
1. Only these first two sentences were quoted in Life 9 (July 22, 1940): 16.
2. Writing a few days later to Daniel Longwell, executive editor of Life, Marshall said, “I am acknowledging your acknowledgment because I want you to know that I was not only glad to do so [i.e., write the statement printed above], and fully realize the importance of educating the public to the necessities, but more particularly because I have felt under obligation to LIFE ever since you undertook the article on Materiel [“50,000 Airplanes: U.S. to Multiply Fleets & Factories,” Life 9 (May 27, 1940): 83-93] which, in my opinion, played an effective part in enabling us to get one hundred and ten millions for this purpose out of the special defense measure.” (Marshall to Longwell, July 19, 1940, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
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. 264-265.