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To Rose Page
August 4, 1923 President Harding’s Funeral Train
My dear Rose
This will be a hard letter to read, for it is a very hard letter to write, because the train shakes a good bit. I left San Francisco yesterday, very suddenly, to accompany General Pershing on the President’s special train taking Mr. Harding’s body back to Washington. So this is a very sad journey, though a very impressive one. At all the stations day or night the people, the very kindhearted and sympathetic people of America, stand in long silent lines, bareheaded. The boy and girl scouts, the veterans of our wars and the local military organizations, with their flags hung with mourning streamers, salute as the train rolls by without pause. In the observation vestibule at the rear, a guard of four soldiers, sailors and marines stand motionless on guard around the casket. It is all very solemn and impressive and will grow more so as we reach the more thickly populated country east of Kansas. The silence of the motionless throngs, the steady and uninterrupted progress of the train and the bared heads of the humblest workers along the railroad, marks this journey apart from all others I have taken.
Wednesday afternoon [August 1] General Pershing and I motored 150 miles from Monterey to San Francisco, arriving about eight o clock. We called immediately on Mrs. Harding to inquire about the President. She was very cheerful and optimistic. The following evening, a short period after his sudden death, I sat in the same room listening to a meeting of four members of the President’s cabinet to determine what should be done.
This is not a very cheerful letter, Rosey, but I think you will be interested in what I have written.
With much love,
G. C. M.
Document Copy Text Source: Rose Page Wilson Papers, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Handwritten letter signed.
Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 1, “The Soldierly Spirit,” December 1880-June 1939 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981), pp. 233-234.