Thursday, July 5, 2007

Soldier, Statesman, CCC Commander

George C. Marshall, the only soldier to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, was a Civilian Conservation Corps commander in the northwest United States before rising to prominence during World War II and its aftermath.

Of his association with the CCC, Marshall recalled: "I found the CCC the most instructive service I have ever had, and the most interesting. The results one could obtain were amazing and highly satisfying…" And, "a splendid experience for the War Department and the army…best antidote for mental stagnation that an Army officer in my position can have."

Marshall, who lived in Vancouver, Washington from 1936 to 1938, was commander of the Vancouver Barracks where he was also charged with the task of setting up 19 camps and supervising 35 more. Marshall went on to become a five-star General of the Army, chief of staff and finally secretary of state where he authored the famous Marshall Plan for rebuilding Europe following its destruction during World War II. Marshall was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953.

Here’s a telling incident from the book Soldier, Statesman, Peacemaker by Jack Uldrich:
A brash young major stormed into Marshall’s office and said, “I’m a graduate of West Point. I’m not going to come down here and deal with a whole lot of bums…[and] half-dead crackers.” The major assumed that Marshall would cave in to his demand for transfer out of the CCC. Marshall replied, “Major, I’m sorry you feel like that. But I’ll tell you this-you can’t resign quick enough to suit me.” As the young major stood there stunned, Marshall added, “Now get out of here!”

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Buffalo Crossing Camp, Eastern Arizona

Buffalo Crossing Camp, Eastern Arizona