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To William A. Lydgate
November 10, 1945 [Washington, D.C.]
Dear Mr. Lydgate:
I have your letter of 30 October concerning my remarks at the Herald-Tribune Forum and the findings of the Gallup Poll.1 I understand the thought which prompted your criticism of my remarks on public apathy but feel that the question involves more than comparison of the numbers who favor or oppose universal military training and adequate military preparedness.
By my comment on “public apathy regarding our military obligations,” I intended no criticism of the thinking of the bulk of American people. My intent was to bring to the attention of those who approve of the soundness of proper military security the fact that passive approval is not sufficient but that active support is necessary to insure that their opinion prevails in practice. I fear that if this apathy persists, the will of the majority of the people of this country is very liable to be flouted.
If the majority does not manifest sufficient interest to promote actively its own views, it can be justly charged with apathy in a matter which has a vital bearing on the future of the nation.
I appreciate your interest in writing to me and hope that my reply will give you a fuller understanding of the reason for my concern.2
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. Lydgate was editor of the American Institute of Public Opinion. He wrote that his organization’s Gallup surveys demonstrated that a significant majority of the American people: (1) envisioned maintaining rather large peacetime armed forces; (2) disagreed that the atomic bomb had made the traditional services unnecessary; (3) opposed the hasty disintegration of the present armed forces; (4) believed that the U.S. occupation of Japan would last many years; (5) and favored (60 percent for) universal military training. (Lydgate to Marshall, October 30, 1945, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].)
2. Marshall should not expect activism from the majorities who supported policies he espoused, Lydgate responded; “while people are willing to make the sacrifices involved they see no particular point in shouting about their willingness to be noble or to perform a duty expected of them.” Congressional leaders and others had to be made to understand the silent majority’s positions. He also noted that the latest Gallup survey showed a rise in the percentage favoring the universal military training bill to 75 percent, with 21 percent against and 4 percent without an opinion. (Lydgate to Marshall, November 14, 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. 355.