By Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray OdiernoNovember 10, 2014
Good morning. It is great to be here. It's such a beautiful day; I think I am going to retire here some day. First, it is a great honor of mine to represent all of the Soldiers of the United States Army today, because that is why I am here. Today, we recognize probably our finest leader we have ever known, and one that we talk about quite regularly because of the broad spectrum of what he did in his life. Thank you for inviting me to be here to talk a little bit about George C. Marshall
55 years ago, General Marshall was honored by the town of Pinehurst when Marshall Park was first established just a short distance from where we sit today. The strong bonds between the Pinehurst community and General Marshall remain, as it is clear to all of us as you represent him today and honor him as you move the monument.
Mayor Fiorillo, thank you so much for what you have done and for your leadership. Mr. Bill Wetmore, Mr. Charles Clack, and Mr. Marty Mackenzie, thank you for what you do. Marty, thank you for that kind introduction. I think you have truly picked a great location for this park. Mr. Tommy Bolton, Sir, thank you for all you do not only for Pinehurst but what you do for our military. Sir, thank you so much for that.
Mark Milley, General Milley, the FORSCOM Commander. Thank you, Sir, for being here. General Kernan, thank you so much for being here. All of the other military leaders, thank you.
General Walker, it is really an honor for us that you are here. I am told that you first met General Marshall when you were eleven years old, and that your father was his executive officer. So I know that this day probably means a lot to you. And I remember that General Walker was the Commandant of Cadets when I was a freshman plebe at West Point. I remember General Walker very well. Sir, it is great to see you. It's much better to see you now than it was back then, actually.
CSM Schroeder, Sergeant Major of FORSCOM, Sir, thank you for being here. Mayors, Village Council members, all of the Pinehurst Community Trust members. Pastor Rod Stone, thank you. The Army Ground Forces Band, thank you so much for being here, as always.
I would also like to thank Boy Scouts Troop 7 who led the Pledge of Allegiance: Andrew Barton, Gabe Buss, Aric Flor, and Aaron Ott. These fine young men share much in common. As was mentioned earlier, their fathers are all currently deployed to Afghanistan. To me, they understand the meaning of the Pledge probably a little bit better than most Americans do. Their families are willing to sacrifice for what it stands for. Ladies and Gentlemen, please join me in applauding them, and in recognizing the selfless service that our Service Members and their Families make each and every day. These young men represent a legacy of service that we honor in George C. Marshall today.
As many of you know, General Marshall and his wife, Katherine, bought a home in Pinehurst in 1944. Katherine was convalescing from an illness at the Carolina Hotel when she came across a one-story cottage on Linden Road, which the Marshalls bought and named Liscombe Lodge. The Marshalls would spend winters in Pinehurst as a break from their busy lives in DC before moving here permanently in 1952.
The Marshalls felt right at home in Pinehurst and became important members of the village. They frequently attended services at the Village Chapel and movies in Southern Pines, and would host guests both local and famous at Liscombe Lodge. But it was not for fame that the Marshalls moved to Pinehurst. It was for the sense of belonging that the Marshalls felt here from the start--the warmth, the congeniality, and the patriotism that best define the Pinehurst community. He was known then and is still known as a "Citizen of Pinehurst," and a granite monument has commemorated him for the last six decades.
That monument and this park have been visited by thousands since 1959. But what makes this new location for the park so special is its ease of access for people walking or driving through Pinehurst, going to and from the Resort. Village officials and residents, the Community Trust, and the Resort worked together to ensure the Park's prominence for decades to come. And they did this to educate. To educate all of those who visit Pinehurst, and really honor the legacies of service for which General Marshall is known, and to bridge the defense of our Nation's freedoms--past, present, and future.
General Marshall is by far one of the most decorated Americans who has ever lived. As a young infantry officer, he served as a company commander in the Philippines and then served alongside General John Pershing during World War I. Known for his candor, he was nominated later by President Roosevelt to serve as the Army Chief in 1939, a post he held for the duration of the war. General Marshall became the first American General to be promoted to five-star rank when he was appointed as General of the Army in 1944, and was referred to by Winston Churchill as the "organizer of the Allied victory."
After the war, General Marshall was appointed by President Truman as Secretary of State. He could have said no. He had already served his country. But he thought it was necessary during this time to do a bit more. During this time, he outlined the European Recovery Program, better known as the Marshall Plan. But he wasn't done yet. After that, he decided that he would also hold the post of Secretary of Defense during the Korean War. This is a man who served his Nation for 50 years, during probably the most difficult times this Nation has ever faced. And he didn't do it for personal glory or personal honor. He did it for love of country, for love of his fellow man. That is why it is so important that we commemorate him.
General Marshall's legacy is not based solely on his contributions to the Army, the Nation, and the world, as those who knew him in Pinehurst would attest. Above all, General Marshall invested in people, in the men and women who sacrificed day in, day out during the times of peace and war. General Marshall valued loyalty--he asked for it. In fact, he demanded it. But he returned it, once noting that "I can't expect loyalty from the Army if I do not give it back." General Marshall's most lasting impact may well be that our Soldiers and leaders live by that loyalty and commitment to one another each and every day. Trust and loyalty is what drives our Army of 2014.
General Marshall was resolute in his commitment to the men and women around him, from the most junior to the most senior. He once wrote a thank you note to a telephone operator at his headquarters. Twenty-five years later she knocked upon his door. She said she had been a telephone operator for many years and that was the first time anyone had thanked her for what she had done, and now, twenty-five years later, she wanted to thank him, General Marshall. Just as General Marshall left an impression on every Soldier that he touched, he left an indelible impression on that telephone operator. That is the type of man and leader we honor today.
These are the impressions that define General Marshall as a person. They define his character. A man who appreciated hard work; a man passionate about serving his Nation; a man who cared about Soldiers and people. He cared about the Army, and he cared about this community. He was a man who knew that the relationships we build are our greatest accomplishments.
General Marshall knew not to strain those relationships with long talks. He once said of his superior, General Franklin Bell that "his trouble was that he was too apt to engage in lengthy speeches." And with his dry candor, General Marshall told his boss "that he was making a great mistake" by speaking on and on and on. So I will take General Marshall's advice and bring this speech to a close.
Thank you all for ensuring the prominence of Marshall Park here in Pinehurst. It will educate us on the history of our Nation. Just as importantly, it will educate us on the history of our military--on the importance of our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines who have served and sacrificed throughout our Nation's history and continue to serve today.
I also hope that this monument will serve as a reminder to all who walk by it of the importance of service. Service to our community, service to others, and most importantly service to our Nation. May we continue to learn from General Marshall, Citizen of Pinehurst, and may we continue to gather in parks like this to salute our brave men and women who continue to sacrifice for our Nation.
The Strength of our Nation is our Army
The Strength of our Army is our Soldiers
The Strength of our Soldiers is our Families
That is what makes us Army Strong!