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Statement Upon Receiving the Distinguished Service Medal
November 26, 1945 [Washington, D.C.]
I am profoundly grateful for your citation for the Distinguished Service Medal. I accept it as the agent of those who made it possible for us to stand here today in peace and thanksgiving—the soldiers of the great American Army of this war.
I know, Mr. President, that there is nothing I can say to increase your appreciation and affection for these men. From the moment you became our Commander-in-Chief we have had the utmost support and understanding from you. Your leadership in the final stages of the war made certain that both in Europe and in the Pacific not a moment was lost to bring a swift end to the tragic calamity of this generation.
To you, the men and women of the War Department who served with me during the hard years of this war who labored month after month without regard to hours and without the stimulus of excitement or danger or the opportunity for personal recognition, I need say that you did a tremendous job magnificently. Your work translated the power of America into a great army and deployed and supplied it around the world. I thank you from the heart for your fine partnership and for all that you have done for me to make the task lighter.
To the soldiers of the Army, you still in uniform and you who have already returned to your home, I, as one citizen and one comrade, express my deepest gratitude.
You were the greatest protective force this nation has ever known. In its direct hours you carried the might of America into action. You gave to the United States its rightful prestige among nations. And no one knows better than you that you did not do it alone. You know how tremendous was the contribution of the nation as a whole, of the millions of laboring men and women whose productive efforts supplied your munitions, of the factories of this great nation and the science and management that guided their operation, of the farms, and of the plain citizen who put your needs above his own.
But of all these efforts yours was by far the greatest. You faced death and swallowed fear, endured the agonies of battle and of hearts torn by loneliness and homesickness and starvation for the normal life you loved. Yet you took it—all there was to take anywhere on the battlefronts of the world. And you had the strength and will to give it back, give back much more than your enemies could take. You know that those who stayed behind were no different than you. Had they been out front and you behind, all would have served just as you did. That is the genius of America; that is the strength of a free people.
Most of you know how different, how fortunate is America compared with the rest of the world. That is something those at home cannot fully appreciate. Today this nation with good faith and sincerity, I am certain, desires to take the lead in the measures necessary to avoid another world catastrophe, such as you have just endured. And the world of suffering people looks to us for such leadership. Their thoughts, however, are not concentrated alone on this problem; they have the more immediate and terribly pressing concerns—where their next mouthful of food will come from, where they will find shelter tonight and where they will find warmth from the cold of winter. Along with the great problem of maintaining the peace we must solve the problem of the pittance of food, of clothing and coal and homes. Neither of these problems can be solved alone. They are directly related, one to the other.
It is to you men and women of this great citizen-army who carried this nation to victory, that we must look for leadership in the critical years ahead. You are young and vigorous and your services as informed citizens will be necessary to the peace and prosperity of the world.
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Speeches, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed draft.
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. 366-367.