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To Charles J. Graham1
March 8, 1945 [Washington, D.C.]
I received your note of the sixth with your gracious invitation for dinner prior to the showing of “Winged Victory”. I am sorry that I do not believe I should accept.
My reasons are these, which I ask you to treat as confidential. In the first place, openings somewhat on this order occur with great frequency in Washington and I could not possibly make such commitments. But what is more important, I am under constant attack by those, including certain newspapers, who oppose what I propose or urge. They are constantly on the lookout for some vulnerable spot at which to strike against me. My appearance at a hotel party or at a theater is very apt to lead to such a reaction. They go so far as to count me present at some official very special occasion, for instance at the Russian Embassy, when I have not been present and refer to my Washington social life in contrast to that of the hardpressed leaders in the field.
It is very easy to understand the soldiers’ point of view which I must always have in mind. In the heat of the tropics, in the snow or the mud on the various fronts he cannot be expected to understand any good reason why I, who am largely responsible for his being where he is, his sufferings and his hardships, should be a participant in dinners and theater parties, whatever the purpose. There is a further point to this, in that explanations are of no purpose, and simply a sign of weakness of position.
Finally, I did attend the premiere of “Winged Victory” in New York.2
I am sorry not to feel free to accept your fine invitation and I hope you will understand. When you are here call up my secretary because I should like to see you, and Mrs. Graham too, if she is with you. Mrs. Marshall is at Pinehurst, North Carolina.3
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. Graham, president of the Pittsburgh and West Virginia Railway Company headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, invited General Marshall to join a small group for a dinner party when Winged Victory opened at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C., on March 26. “I know you told me a long time ago that you were making no social engagements during the war period,” wrote Graham, “but, for such an event as this, thought you might make an exception.” (Graham to Marshall, March 6, 1945, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
2. Generals Marshall and Arnold had seen Moss Hart’s patriotic Broadway play Winged Victory on January 26, 1944. “One of the chief disappointments of my life was that I could not be present the evening you and General Arnold saw my play,” wrote Hart, “but it was so gracious of you to go back and talk to the cast, that I wanted to add my personal thanks to theirs, and tell you how much it meant to all of us.” (Hart to Marshall, February 4, 1944, ibid.)
3. Graham replied that unfortunately “those who accomplish the most are usually those who have to suffer from criticisms and innuendoes on the part of those who accomplish nothing.” (Graham to Marshall, March 9, 1945, ibid.)
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), p. 82.