Thursday, April 27, 2017
George C. Marshall Museum
GEORGE C. MARSHALL MUSEUM
Traveling to some museums broadens our minds as we learn how some of our leaders focused on making needed changes.
At the George C. Marshall Museum in Lexington, Va., I gained some insight into the major contributions he made to history in the 20th century. Marshall, a Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, was the architect of victory in WWII and creator and implementer of the Marshall Plan,
The museum tour started with a movie that viewed his life, starting with his childhood in Pennsylvania. A graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, he was able to become the leader of the many great generals who had graduated from West Point, such as Dwight Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, Omar Bradley, and George S. Patton.
Besides not being a fellow West Point graduate, Marshall also did not have battle experience. However, he seemed always to be preparing men for battle, but instead of focusing mainly on mistakes on our last wars, he was different in that he was preparing men for modern wars based on what new equipment had appeared and better ways to handle problems that were apparent in some other countries.
President Franklin Roosevelt appointed him as his deputy army chief of staff in 1938 to help prepare an army that was 17th in the world in terms of numbers and modernization to be able to fight in the coming war.
One of Marshall’s strengths was his outspokenness that may have made Roosevelt cringe, but also brought him around to understanding what real needs of the military were. Marshall understood the need to prepare men to use modern equipment. Without his insights, we would have been totally unprepared for our entry into WWII.
After the war Marshall recognized that we had made many mistakes after WWI that had led to the rise of Hitler and continuing tension between the European countries. He did not want this to happen again and pushed for the Marshall Plan that would help with the rehabilitation of all of the countries outside of the Iron Curtain.
This was endorsed by President Harry Truman and is considered by many as the salvation of Europe with provisions of equipment, machinery for rebuilding and food supplies to prevent starvation. For this Marshall later was given the Nobel Peace Prize.
Four rooms of exhibits and two long hallways have pictures, large posters, magazine covers and some equipment like small arms and a jeep from WWII, to give us a sense of his life.
The largest room covers his childhood and his time at college and in WWII. Another room is on the Marshall Plan and the Nobel Peace Prize, and a third room has his office equipment and role as Chief of Staff.
In the lower gallery in the meeting room a continuous running film is part of the series that Marshall had professionally made on the reason we were fighting the war.
This was shown only to military personal to prepare them emotionally and mentally for the enemy they would encounter. It shows the atrocities committed by our enemies upon the peoples they were dealing with. It was somewhat like the pep talks coaches give their teams to get them ready for important games.
Marshall was one of the greats of history and it is possible that without his ability to anticipate what was needed to fight World War II and the help he provided for the opponents to recover, this would be a very different, and much more vicious and dangerous world.