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To Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.
January 6, 1945 [Washington, D.C.]
Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:
I have delayed in answering your letter of Dec. twenty-sixth regarding the naming of a WAC company for General Roosevelt as we are in the midst of a rather emergency proposal for the recruiting of over 100 new companies for assignment to specific general hospitals.1 For the leadership in the recruiting drive we hope to enlist the Governors of the respective States, each to seek recruits for the companies to be assigned to the general hospitals within his State. Naturally the question of giving names to these companies is one of the considerations and it is important that the policy apply to all. Therefore the delay in my answering your letter.
For several reasons (one of them, most confidentially, racial complications) it is considered inadvisable for the War Department to become involved in the selection of the names of the individuals to be honored in the naming of companies.2 So at the present moment I am not free to give a direct answer to your question. There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that a company will be so named in New York. It is merely the question of the advisability of making such announcement at this particular moment and on the basis of a formal War Department approval.3
I must ask you to regard as confidential the general information I have given you above until it is released to the press.
I am sure it will interest you to know that at noon today a group of us are assembling in the Secretary of War’s office where he will read the statement by Elihu Root memorializing Theodore Roosevelt the elder.4
With my very best wishes,
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. Mrs. Roosevelt had written that the Greater New York Civilian Advisory Committee for the Women’s Army Corps had successfully run a recruiting campaign in October in which a W.A.C. company was formed called the General Jonathan M. Wainwright Company. The committee planned a similar campaign in which they would honor the memory of Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., and Mrs. Roosevelt asked the chief of staff to announce the W.A.C. company’s formation and the vital need for recruits by the Surgeon General. (Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., to Marshall, December 26, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].) For information regarding W.A.C. recruiting for general hospitals, see the previous document (Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #5-010 [5: 14-15]).
2. Bureau of Public Relations recommended that General Marshall not comply with Mrs. Roosevelt’s request. “There was a minor racial incident connected with the only previous special company which has not had repercussions on the War Department. However, there is a possibility that some discussion may arise in the future in which case you should not be actively connected with such companies.” (Minnich Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, January 3, 1945, ibid.) Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff for Personnel Robert W. Berry discussed the issue with Colonel Oveta Culp Hobby and replied that “the All States campaign in which the Governors of the States were asked to raise companies is almost an exact parallel and it developed only one minor racial incident. The proposed scheme would be helpful in recruiting and I see no real objection to its adoption.” (Berry Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, January 5, 1945, ibid.)
3. The General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., Women’s Army Corps Company, which recruited women during February 1945, trained recruits as medical and surgical technicians. (New York Times, February 2, 1945, p. 9; February 15, 1945, p. 8; March 8, 1945, p. 5.)
4. Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson read Secretary Elihu Root’s memorial address paying tribute to Theodore Roosevelt on the anniversary of Roosevelt’s death on January 6, 1919. “It was a beautiful address,” Stimson wrote, “and I think surprised people because it was one which, being delivered in the Century Association, had never received a wide publication and I don’t think any of those present had heard of it before.” (January 6, 1945, Yale/H. L. Stimson Papers [Diary, 50: 20].)
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. 15-17.