For all the fawning that some manly men websites and publications give warriors and generals, few of the true heroes of America’s battles have also successful won the peace. George C. Marshall was one such man, helping lead U.S. forces during World War II, then helping lead the reconstruction of Europe following the war. His Marshall Plan help instead of humiliated our conquered enemies and eventually earned Marshall the Nobel Peace Prize.
Marshall was also a devout Christian and spoke often of his faith, as this article outlines.
Following the outbreak of the war in Europe and before America’s entry in the conflict, Marshall gave a speech at Trinity College in the summer of 1941. He spoke of the Army’s preparedness as well as the importance of faith in the run-up to what must have seemed an inevitable conflict:
“This new discipline enables me to leave with you the assurance that the men in this Army we are building for the defense of a Christian nation and Christian values, will fight, if they have to fight, with more than their bodies and their hands and their material weapons. They will fight with their souls in the job to do, and we who are here today know that everything, ultimately, depends on the soul—for out of the heart are the issues of life.”
The bulk of Marshall’s speech speaks to the important of spirit, will and morale.
While we men may not be called to something as world-changing as winning a war against Fascism, we are still very much at battle with the forces keeping us from being the best we can be.
Marshall’s words stir the spirit and are a great guide for what victory looks like.
War is a burden to be carried on a steep and bloody road and only strong nerves and determined spirits can endure to the end.
It is true that war is fought with physical weapons of flame and steel but it is not the mere possession of these weapons, or the use of them, that wins the struggle. They are indispensable but in the final analysis it is the human spirit that achieves the ultimate decision.
It is not enough to fight. It is the spirit which we bring to the fight that decides the issue. It is morale that wins the victory.
The French never found an adequate “dictionary” definition for the word. I don’t think that any “definition,” in the strict sense of the word, could encompass its meaning or comprehend its full import.
It is more than a word—more than any one word, or several words, can measure.
Morale is a state of mind. It is steadfastness and courage and hope. It is confidence and zeal and loyalty. It is elan, esprit de corps and determination.
It is staying power, the spirit which endures to the end—the will to win.
With it all things are possible, without it everything else, planning, preparation, production, count for nought.
I have just said it is the spirit which endures to the end. And so it is.