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To Major General Charles E. Kilbourne
June 17, 1940 [Washington, D.C.]
Since my return to Washington on Wednesday, I have been so pressed with business and meetings here and in other departments, and with testimony on the Hill that I failed to acknowledge your fine hospitality and the honor you paid me last Wednesday morning.1
I was sorry to rush off in the manner I did, but as it was I only had ten minutes to fortify myself regarding new arrangements before appearing at a rather momentous meeting at the Treasury Department.2 My appearance on the program occurred so quickly and I left so hastily that I hardly had time to form very definite impressions of the Corps and the graduation class. From what little I saw I was much impressed with the general tone and high morale of the Corps and I gathered the impression from many that you have done a splendid piece of work this past year, and have gotten everything on a solid foundation.
Immediately on my return I took up the question of the coordination of government efforts regarding the utilization of various facilities, such as yours at the VMI. I found that the first investigation, which had reached you, was a hasty affair launched in a minute by the services concerned. Now, I believe, all is being coordinated under Mr. Harry Hopkins’ guidance.
With my warm regards to Mrs. Kilbourne and you and my most sincere thanks for your fine hospitality and all the trouble you took for my comfort,
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 had delivered the Virginia Military Institute’s commencement address on Wednesday, June 12. After reminiscing about his own V.M.I. days and his early experiences in the army, he told the graduates: “It is your graduation day, but it may also be one of the most fateful in the history of the world. No man can predict the outcome of the tragic struggle in Europe. No American can foresee the eventual effect on the Americas. The world we have known may be revolutionized; the peaceful liberty we have accepted so casually may be a hazard in this ghastly game abroad.
“All of us hope with all our hearts that you young men may be free to go ahead with the civil pursuits for which you have been in training. All of us hope for a continuation of our blessings on this continent. But no one knows just what the outcome may be. Those of us specifically charged with the duty of safe-guarding our defenses are fully aware of the vast responsibility implied. We are planning and preparing in every way possible under our law to put this country in such a state of preparation that we may be spared the agony of war. All of us, all of you, I am sure, realize that the day of drum and bugle armies is over. And we are determined that if it should become necessary for us to use a club to defend our democracy and our interests in the Western Hemisphere, that it shall be a club of hard wood, and not of rubber hose.” (GCMRL/G.C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Speeches].)
2. The meeting concerned the allied purchasing program. (FDRL/H. Morgenthau, Jr., Papers [Diary, 272: 13-45].)
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. 244-245.