George Marshall

HistoryHero Portrait Marshall.png

Everyone knows that this week marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day — the US-led invasion of Nazi-occupied France that turned the tide against Adolf Hitler and brought about the end of WWII. But what many don’t realize is that the 1st week of June is also when the road to post-war peace was paved. This was thanks to George Marshall, the only US soldier ever to have won the Nobel Peace Prize.

George Marshall was a career military man. He graduated from the Virginia Military Academy and in the early 20th century and served in WWI. By the time WWII broke out, he’d advanced to US Army Chief of Staff under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was Marshall who oversaw planning for the D-Day invasion.

After the war, Marshall became Secretary of State — the top US diplomat — for President Harry Truman. From that position he announced his plan, on 5 June 1947, to help rebuild a continent shattered by six years of war.

He called it the European Recovery Plan. We know it today as the Marshall Plan.

In the four years the Marshall Plan was in effect, the US contributed $17 billion (about $200B today) to grow the European economy — including a defeated Germany. By 1952, Europe had already experienced a dramatic increase in production. Mass hunger and suffering were largely extinguished.

What's more, the Marshall Plan eased trade between member nations. It set up the institutions that coordinated European economies, laying the foundation for the European Union.

The Marshall Plan also facilitated the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which can be credited for keeping peace in Europe these past 70 years — the same trans-Atlantic alliance the current US president is threatening to dismantle to the world’s shock and dismay.

George Marshall was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953. We're honored to include him as a #HistoryHero on this day, and we pray that the gift of peace he bequeathed to us prevails, despite the actions and arguments of those who seem to have forgotten his most important legacy.

Don’t fight the problem. Decide it.
— George Marshall

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