2-560 To George A. Beecher, September 30, 1941

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: September 30, 1941

To George A. Beecher

September 30, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]

Dear Bishop Beecher:

I returned from the Louisiana maneuvers last night1 to find your letter of September 27th. It is a very pleasant thing to hear from you again, and exceedingly gratifying to read your generous comments regarding me personally, and to find that you are so stalwart in your attitude toward the practical business of our national security.2

I have been very happy in my relations with the religious organizations in connection with the development of this emergency army, largely, I think, because of the splendid character and capacity for leadership of the current Chief of Chaplains, Colonel William R. Arnold. He is a Catholic, but his attitude has been completely non-sectarian and his judgment in choosing advisors has been admirable. Through his advice and guidance, and with his leadership among the chaplains, I have been able to make tremendous strides in this phase of our responsibilities.

I have been criticized for the building of too many chapels and too few buildings for purely military purposes, but I feel that we are generally involved in a great experiment to see if much more cannot be done than has ever been practical in the past. In effect we are treating the Chaplains Corps in exactly the same manner we treat the other officers regarding training, tactics, or supply. We have tried to exert the same care in the selection of chaplains that we endeavor to exert in the selection of troop leaders.

This is probably the most important phase of the whole matter, because without the capacity for leadership a chaplain almost does more harm than good. I was really pleased several months ago to receive a letter from Bishop O’Hara, who had been on our advisory council, stating that he thought we were working the catholic chaplains too hard.3 This meant to me that our efforts in the religious field were as strenuous as we try to make them in the purely military field.

I often look back on our pleasant days at Fort Benning, particularly our rides. I hope you have suffered no continuing ill effects from your automobile accident and that Mrs. Beecher is in good health.

With my warm regards to both of you,

Faithfully yours,

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

Document Format: Typed letter.

1. Marshall returned from the Louisiana maneuvers on September 28. He most likely dictated this letter on September 29, although it was typed on September 30.

2. Beecher, Episcopal bishop of the Missionary District of Western Nebraska, had been Marshall’s horseback riding companion at Fort Benning. “I have related to my various congregations on Sunday mornings the deeply anchored confidence I have in you and your powerful leadership of our troops in this tragical world situation,” Beecher had written to Marshall. “I know that it does no harm to tell our people who you are and what you are doing. It helps to stimulate their confidence and warm them up to a more rational and helpful patriotism. I have been hammering at the disloyal groups who have been plying their schemes to disrupt this country by creating factions and sectionalism against the Administration and his associates who are trying to crush Nazism and all it stands for at the earliest possible date. . . . I have told our people how much I thought of you and referred to several incidents in which you demonstrated that type of Christian character which makes us all proud of you as a national leader in a time of distress. I recall in this connection the order you issued for all troops not on specific duty to be granted the privilege of attending the Good Friday services last Lent.” (Beecher to Marshall, September 27, 1941, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].)

3. The letter to which Marshall refers is not in the Marshall papers.

Recommended Citation: ThePapers 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. 623-624.


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