The idea for the Marshall Research Library was conceived from the admiration President Harry Truman held for George C. Marshall. Truman called Marshall “the great one of the age.”
Truman’s presidential proclamation setting into motion the formation of the Marshall Foundation in 1953 and the funding, building and opening of the Marshall Research Library in 1964 created a fitting remembrance for a man for whom humility and selflessness were part of his unimpeachable character.
Events on June 5, 2014 recalled that day in 1964 when President Lyndon B. Johnson, former President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Gen. Omar Bradley, then president of the Marshall Foundation, paid tribute to the man for whom the Library was being dedicated. They knew Marshall’s life and the significant events of the first half of the 20th century in which he participated as a leader and global strategist—the First World War, the Second World War, the Korean War and the Cold War that following, among others–would be studied forever.
Speaking to an audience of about 250 assembled in Marshall Hall, Foundation President Rob Havers said, “The esteem that Marshall commanded across the world, across this nation and across the political aisle…there can be few men indeed in the history of this great nation who command such respect. Far fewer still who do so without the office of president on their resume to bolster that memory. In the same moment, however, that we look back and savor that day in 1964, recall those vivid memories and consider all that has been achieved in those 50 years.”
Looking ahead, Dr. Havers said, “But what Marshall himself would not do, the George C. Marshall Foundation is on the cusp of doing. In April of 2015, less than a year away, the final volume of the papers of George C Marshall will be complete and with that the permanency of the record of Marshall will be assured. We will continue to be the guardian and repository of that record and the facilitator and enabler of its interpretation. The fact that requests to use our collections grow year on year is testimony to the enduring fascination that Marshall holds for historians and scholars from across the globe.
“We must, however, as an institution build further, to take on a more dynamic role to ensure not only that Marshall’s record remains but that the knowledge of and understanding of that record grow with each passing year, not diminishes. We must do that because if ever there was a need for the self-effacing courage and integrity of a man like George C Marshall, it is today in the 21st century when his qualities are seemingly rare indeed,” he said.
Foundation Board Chair Jay Adams opened the proceedings by announcing the featured speaker, former Secretary of the Army John O. Marsh, had been hospitalized. Dr. Havers proved a capable and timely replacement. The opportunity gave him, then 19 days into his new position, a significant exposure to the community. Following Dr. Havers’ remarks the group moved to a reception at the Marshall Foundation. A dinner for members of the Board of Trustees and their guests concluded the day.