The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt


NEW YORK, Monday—I was glad to see in Secretary Marshall's letter of resignation that while he was retiring from a position which he accepted only for a prescribed length of time, he did assure the President that he would be available for any limited service in the future.

As citizens of the United States, we owe the General our deep thanks for the unselfish service he has rendered to his country, first as a distinguished soldier, then as Secretary of State and, finally, in a capacity where both his service as a soldier and a civilian administrator, as Secretary of Defense, were called into play.

Even in the Army, General Marshall's interest in the young people of our country was keen. I remember him talking to me about the Civilian Conservation Corps program and how much of value he thought that had contributed to the youth of our nation.

There are drawbacks for military men in civilian positions. And perhaps one of the most difficult to overcome is the fact that in any military service loyalty to one's superior is taken for granted, while that, of course, is never the case in a civilian situation.

In Federal departments and agencies in which the heads come and go but in which lower-classification people remain for much longer periods, it is quite possible for clever people down the line to prevent the people at the top from carrying out their policies—to a certain extent, at least. I am sure that if Secretary Marshall ever found anyone who was quietly sabotaging any particular interest of his superior officer, he would always have felt that it must be because of misunderstanding and never because of intent!

I shall be grateful for having known General Marshall because of the satisfaction I have always had in looking at such a strong and good face. It gave me, and still does, a sense of faith and trust in the qualities of American leadership, and as long as there are men like him to pilot us through times of hardship and difficulty, I think our ship of state will keep on a fairly even keel.

This does not mean, of course, that I do not recognize the fact that even a man of complete integrity and great courage cannot make mistakes. I think that what he tried to do in China was the right thing to try to do. But I was not in China and I am not setting myself up as an expert on Asiatic affairs. Perhaps another policy might have been more successful.

I am quite sure, however, that anyone who knew the general in China, or anywhere else in the world, gained a greater confidence and respect for the government of the United States.

He has given our young people an example of unselfish devotion to duty where his country is concerned. And I think many a man in the future, when he is tempted to shirk a job that he might do for the public good, will think of General Marshall and perhaps do the job he might otherwise set aside in the light of his own personal interest.

I am glad for Mrs. Marshall's sake that for a time at least she and the general will have a life of their own. They have had interesting experiences together, but it has been rather rare that they have been able to do what they wanted to do. So I wish them both many years of happiness, and I congratulate the country that if the need arises we may have the general again serving on a temporary basis.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • New York (N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, September 18, 1951

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.