ONLINE CATALOG SEARCH
To Major General Roy D. Keehn
July 15, 1940 [Washington D.C.]
I have just this moment read your letter of July 12th, and I will first reply regarding Arlington.1 I would love to get away, but I have not a Chinaman’s chance under present conditions. Last July, a year ago, I had three days up at Fire Island with Mrs. Marshall. That has been my vacation, except as I read or slept on an airplane flying here and there. I have gotten down to Virginia Saturday evening for Sunday several times, but even that has been difficult of arrangement. Yesterday, Sunday, for example, Owen D. Young came out to the house, also General Dawes;2 Mr. Stimson, the new Secretary of War, tried to get me, and half a dozen somewhat similar calls of importance came during the day. Fortunately I was not there, but it goes on like this interminably.
I ride at six o’clock in the morning with Molly; this is the only time I can be certain of exercise. Until Congress completes action on the basic proposals, and we get under way further with our readjustment and reorganization of troops, I am pretty well tied to this vicinity. More occurs here in a day now than used to occur in a month, and it seems to grow a little worse each day.
I am interested in what you had to say about the National Guard. Quite confidentially, I might say to you that your expression “the situation will have to be more imminent to justify an immediate call”, suggests very positively the thought that you in your contacts are not aware at all of the possibilities of the immediate future. Time is the dominant factor in all this business. We cannot advertise every thought and item of knowledge we have; we are charged with the National Defense, meaning national safety. Once the dilemma has arisen, it is too late; we have to take our preliminary measures in time to reach some degree of preparation. I wish I could feel as sure of the situation as you and your people apparently do. The past three months have been catastrophic in the history of the world, the next six months may be more paralyzing. Understand this is confidential and not to be quoted.
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. Keehn repeated his invitation (see Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #2-202 [2: 245]) to Marshall to come to Chicago and attend some horse races; “you can get a little relaxation and contact a few people.” Keehn’s letter was primarily concerned with the National Guard, however. “Everybody is calling up about the headlines in the newspapers, concerning what you say about calling out the National Guard immediately. . . . Just between you and me, don’t you let anybody kid you that the National Guard officers here want to be called for training. Everybody is up in the air today. . . . Of course, everybody is excited about the war and wants to kill Hitler, but in my opinion the situation will have to be more imminent to justify an immediate call of the Guard with their scant equipment, etc. Besides, many of them are just getting jobs.” (Keehn to Marshall, July 12, 1940, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
2. Young, former chairman of the board of the General Electric Company, was an adviser on industrial training,—or, as he himself said, “a sort of handy man”—for the Roosevelt administration on transportation and defense problems. (New York Times, July 25, 1940, p. 8.) Marshall habitually called former Vice-President Charles G. Dawes “general.” Dawes had been a brigadier general in the World War when he was the general purchasing agent for the A.E.F.
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr.(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), pp. 266-267.