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"One Man's Way of Dealing with Life Circumstances..."

Fifty years ago, US Secretary of State General George C Marshall proposed an economic recovery plan for a Europe devastated by World War II. In a speech delivered on June 5, 1947, at Harvard University, Marshall proclaimed, "Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos." Under the Marshall Plan, an estimated $13 billion was expended by the United States from 1948 to 1952, resulting in a revived working economy on the continent of Europe.

Marshall had served as chief of the US Army during the war, championing a strategy of cross-channel invasion of Europe. For his efforts, Britain’s Prime Minister Winston Churchill dubbed him the "true organizer of victory." Marshall became secretary of state in 1946 and later served as secretary of defense.

Although Marshall favored a strong United States, he did not think that lasting peace could be built on military strength. His idea of a true solution was a three-part plan to be followed by all nations: to teach children contextual history so that they could learn the mistakes of the past and the causes of war; to promote cultural exchanges where citizens could live abroad and experience the people and languages of foreign cultures; and to have the more fortunate nations help the less fortunate nations develop in order to avoid a situation of haves and have-nots.

Marshall inspired those around him by his selfless service and humanitarian compassion. Refusing to accept positions on boards of major corporations, he said, "They want my name but they don’t want me." Marshall was the only professional soldier ever to be awarded the Nobel Prize for peace. He accepted the prize in 1953 but returned the money.


Source: Postgraduate Medicine, 1997 June; 101 (6):90