|116. Address at a Dinner in Honor of General George C. Marshall|
June 5, 1949 |
Mr. Ambassador, Your Excellencies, General Marshall, distinguished guests:
We of the United States are grateful to the other nations represented here tonight for honoring George C. Marshall. We are happy to join with them in this tribute to one of the greatest Americans of all time.
The nations represented here owe as much to General Marshall, in war and in peace, as they owe to any other one man in the world. That is my opinion.
He shaped the victory of the Allies in the recent war to an extent that may not yet be fully realized. He was one of coequals among Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Combined Chiefs of Staff. Yet by the authority of his character and the quality of his judgment, his influence was predominant in developing the strategy that brought complete victory. And nobody knows that better than I do.
Although General Marshall had richly earned the right to retire when the war ended, I asked him to give further of his great talent to the service of his country. His response was generous and complete-the response of a soldier and a patriot. His answer was, "Yes, Mr. President, I will do it." I wish a great many of our citizens would take that same attitude, at times.
As Secretary of State in a critical period, he rose to new heights of leadership and achievement. He had been the master strategist of the war; now he rallied the democratic forces for peace. He found the free nations near despair and uncertain of their future course.
He restored their confidence.
He revived their belief in the strength and the ultimate triumph of the cause of freedom and democracy.
When our times are viewed in the long perspective of history, I think General Marshall will be more widely remembered for the peacetime effort which bears his name than for his services in the war years, important though they were.
This is because the countries represented here tonight have embarked on a new venture in the history of nations. It is not new for nations to fight together against a common enemy. But it is new for nations to work together, as our nations are working together now, in close economic cooperation to create a better life for their citizens and to build a lasting peace in the world.
I believe that, in years to come, we shall look back upon this undertaking as the dividing line between the old era of world affairs and the new--the dividing line be tween the old era of national suspicion economic hostility, and isolationism, and the new era of mutual cooperation to increase the prosperity of people throughout the world.
General Marshall will be known as one of those who brought this new era into being. But he would be the first to agree that it is more than the creation of statesmen. It comes from the minds and hearts of all the people. Our peoples are united in their determination to work together to deal with the basic problems of human life.
This is the strength of the European recovery program--the Marshall plan. It was developed in concert and is being carried out by cooperative action. Western Europe is recovering its economic strength. The spirit of democracy and self-reliance is resurgent. Economic recovery is matched by a revival of hope, confidence, and faith in the capacity of people to govern themselves wisely and justly, and to build a better world through their own efforts.
We have made real progress up to this time. But the ultimate test still lies ahead. None of us can afford to relax our efforts. I am confident that with mutual devotion to our common cause we shall succeed.
Our great hope for peace and prosperity lies in the developing sense of unity among the free nations of the world. We have learned full well that no nation can live to itself alone. We have also learned that when the free peoples of the world stand united they are unconquerable.
The United States will continue to dedicate its strength and its resources to the building of a peaceful and prosperous world. That we will do in the spirit so well exemplified by this great American we are honoring here tonight.
NOTE: The President spoke at 10:50 p.m. at the Carlton Hotel in Washington. The dinner was given by the Chiefs of Mission of the 16 Marshall plan countries, on the second anniversary of General Marshall's speech at Harvard University in which he first enunciated the broad outlines of the European recovery program.
In his opening words the President referred to Wilhelm Munthe de Morgenstierne, Norwegian Ambassador and dean of the diplomatic corps, who served as spokesman for the hosts, and to the ambassadors or ministers of the remaining Marshall plan countries.
Provided courtesy of The American Presidency Project. John Woolley and Gerhard Peters. University of California, Santa Barbara.