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To Howard C. Bronson1
September 30, 1940 [Washington, D.C.]
My dear Bronson:
I have given a careful reading to your letter of September 12th and have had it gone over both by the Organization and Personnel Branches of the General Staff.
You need not have feared that I did not appreciate the value of Army bands as morale builders, and you may be sure that I will have this in mind during the coming development of our National Defense program. However, some of the points you raised, particularly with relation to musicians in the recent Second Army Maneuvers, lead me to feel that there is a misunderstanding on the part of the bandsmen themselves of one cardinal principle of this whole Army business. Everybody in the Army is a soldier, which means that he must hold himself ready, in a disciplined manner, to meet any job that the urgencies of the moment demand. Your comments I heard in the early days of the AEF where bandsmen were given a variety of duties to perform in helping out with the troops of the line. They recovered from most of these reactions as they began to get the true picture of what an Army really is.
An infantry soldier might well object to the fatigue jobs that come his way, and very frequently, as being injurious to his morale. Excess of fatigue duty is injurious to morale, but to have a soldier feel that he is justified in being resentful because he is called upon to perform such a duty, would mean that the military team no longer existed. Some commanding officers will undoubtedly mishandle their bands, just as they will mishandle other units, but I think, in general, all are well aware of the great importance of music in maintaining morale. Some may make the mistake of calling upon bandsmen to do things which injure their touch—I have known this to happen, but similar mistakes occur with relation to men of all arms and services. We cannot get perfection of direction and leadership, but we must have a team.
The War Department is aware of the problems which have arisen relative to bands and band leaders, and has devoted a great deal of time to their consideration. In the opinion of the Department, nothing has arisen thus far which would justify advocating the establishment of a separate Band Corps, and especially at this time when we are faced with the tremendous problems incident to the expansion of the Army as a whole. However, you may be assured that I personally have in mind the arguments which have been raised on both sides, and I will do my best to see in the end that the right thing is done.
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. Bronson was president of the United States Army and Navy Bandsmen’s Association. For Marshall’s previous dealings with this group, see Memorandum for the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-1, March 18, 1940, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #2-141 [2: 176-77].
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. 319-320.