The Nobel Peace Prize

On December 10, 1953, General George C. Marshall received the Nobel Peace Prize in a ceremony in Oslo, Norway.

Marshall received the award in recognition of his efforts to restore the economies of Western Europe through the Marshall Plan, which had concluded in 1952. Marshall was the first career military officer to receive this high honor for peace, and his selection was controversial.

The Nobel Committee had not made a mistake. Marshall had served as Army Chief of Staff as well as Secretary of State, and thus he had not only won the war but also won the peace. Marshall had helped secure military victory during World War II, and with the Marshall Plan he aided the economic stability of Western Europe following the conflict.

During his acceptance speech Marshall stated, “There has been considerable comment over the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to a soldier. I am afraid this does not seem as remarkable to me as it quite evidently appears to others. I know a great deal of the horrors and tragedies of war. Today, as chairman of the American Battle Monuments Commission, it is my duty to supervise the construction and maintenance of military cemeteries in many countries overseas, particularly in Western Europe. The cost of war in human lives is constantly spread before me, written neatly in many ledgers whose columns are gravestones.” Even when Marshall was receiving one of the most recognized awards in the world, he was humble and saw a broader picture.

In October of this year, the Marshall Library had the honor of welcoming Mr. Alfred “Heber” Taylor, who is believed to be the last living American who was present at the ceremony. Though Mr. Taylor wasn’t able to give a detailed summary of his time at the Nobel Peace Ceremony, his son was able to tell us about how his father and mother were able to attend the ceremony while Alfred was attending the University of Oslo as a Fulbright Scholar.

During his visit in the library we were able to give Mr. Taylor and his son a special treat in getting to see Marshall’s actual Nobel Prize up close, including the chance to hold it.

 

To read Marshall’s full Nobel Lecture click here .

 

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