Remarks at the George Marshall Award Ceremony Sept. 16 Honoring Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.)
Welcome! I am Bill McNutt the Co-Founder, along with a 10-year old girl in Texas, Rabel McNutt, of a nonprofit Veterans Organization, called State Funeral for World War II Veterans. We launched on Labor Day, 2017.
Here is our Mission Statement. “To convince the President of the United States to designate a State Funeral for the Final Medal of Honor recipient from the Second World War. Only three remain alive today. And to provide at this funeral, special recognition for all 16 million men and women who wore the uniform of our armed forces from 1941-1945.”
Yes, a final salute to the greatest generation.
I thank the National World War II Museum for their help and hospitality today. I recognize our National Board members who are here today. Adam Crepelle, Scott Mexic, Alex Muse, Morris Kahn and one who could not be here today, Greg Hamer from Morgan City, Louisiana.
Please welcome Rabbi Mendel Rivkin from Shabbat Shalom here in New Orleans.
Earlier this week I was invited by my friend Morris Kahn to give this invocation. He is a National Board member of State Funeral for World War II Veterans. Under the principled leadership of Bill McNutt, you are lobbying for the United States to hold a state funeral for the last Medal of Freedom recipient from among the WWII veterans.
I figured that since it was the month of Elul, I would include some references to Rosh Hashanah and bring a Shofar along to sound at the ceremony. There happened to be several Jewish people in the room today, including one of the WWII veterans being honored on stage. A U.S. Navy Captain.
Honorable Congressman, Honored Veterans, Honored assembly, Ladies and gentlemen.
“Proclaim liberty throughout the land for all of its inhabitants.” This verse from Leviticus 25 was chosen to be inscribed on the Liberty Bell. Liberty. Freedom. It is under the banner of these ideas that the valiant members of our armed forces have fought for centuries. In the 20th Century, 16,000,000 fought and hundreds of thousands of our brave men and women gave their lives to defend freedom against totalitarianism, the great generation of WWII.
In two weeks from today the Jewish people will be observing Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year and sound the Shofar-ram’s horn. The motifs of Rosh Hashanah include a day of renewal, a day of judgment, a day of Divine Coronation, and also a day of remembrance. We ask that the Al-mighty remember us in mercy.
Just as we ask of the All-Mighty to remember, we too must be diligent in keeping sacred and strong, the memories of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our United States of America. We must never forget those who died so that we could live as free people in this glorious land. We must honor the lives of those who served as the guardians of liberty for each and every one of us.
We pray for the safety of the members of the armed forces, and we pray for the souls of those who lost their lives in the service. May their souls be bound in the bond of life with All-mighty God. To paraphrase the words of Jonathan to David in the book of Samuel, “Go in peace! May the Lord be between us and you forever.”
I will now sound the Shofar as a clarion call to remember and to usher in a sweet new year for all. May God bless this assembly. May God bless our armed forces. May God bless the United States of America.” The Shofar is sounded.
Today’s award is named for a unique American, George Marshall, who was the head of the American Military in World War II. He was the boss of Dwight Eisenhower in Europe and Douglas MacArthur in the Pacific.
His family immigrated to Virginia in the 17th Century. I agree with former Vice Presidential nominee and Congressman Jack Kemp. He often said, “The United States is a land of immigrants, and some of the best ones have come recently. “An example would be the CEO of this museum, Stephen Watson, who is from near Dundee, Scotland. Returning to George Marshall, we are blessed that George Marshall’s family came here over 300 years ago.
George Marshall entered the Virginia Military Institute in 1897. He ended his last year at the institute as First Captain of the Corps of Cadets. He developed a talent for presenting his case to both soldiers and civilians and had the ability to make his subordinates want to do their best.
He was beautifully prepared by experience and temperament for winning the Second World War. George Marshall served as chief of operations of the 1st Army Division in France in 1917. After World War II he served for five years as an aide to Gen. John J. Pershing (1919-24).
About every 40 to 50 years, our nation has a non-Presidential State Funeral. In 1921, President Harding held a State Funeral for the Unknown Soldier from the First World War. In 1948 when General Pershing died, he received a State Funeral from President Truman. Later Douglas MacArthur received the same designation by President Kennedy.
Marshall was sworn in as chief of staff of the U.S. Army on September 1, 1939, the day World War II began with Germany’s invasion of Poland. For the next six years, Marshall oversaw the largest organizational surge in world history. When he entered office, the U.S. forces consisted of fewer than 200,000 officers and men. Under his direction, it expanded to the point that 16 million women and men served in our armed forces.
No greater compliment can be given about his wartime abilities than the praise heaped upon him by the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill who said: “George Marshall was the organizer of victory.”
At the World War II Memorial in Washington DC on the Northern Wall is a quote from George Marshall that in exemplifies his life of service, resilience, and determination. When the war was very much in doubt he said the following:
WE ARE DETERMINED THAT BEFORE THE SUN SETS ON THIS TERRIBLE STRUGGLE OUR FLAG WILL BE RECOGNIZED THROUGHOUT THE WORLD AS A SYMBOL OF FREEDOM ON THE ONE HAND AND OF OVERWHELMING FORCE ON THE OTHER.
Thank God George Marshall lived. Thank God he was right.
Congressman Steve Scalise is the recipient of our young organization’s foremost award named after a Five Star General of the Army. These two men have much in common. Both have displayed physical courage, literally under fire. In World War I Marshall received the Silver Star. Congressman Scalise survived a mass assignation.
Both men are products of the South. Steve from Louisiana, George from Virginia. They both played high school football and baseball growing up.
Both treasured their friendships and relationships with people of both political parties and people of all races and religions. These two men climbed the ladder. Marshall in the military and Steve from Louisiana State Rep, to the State Senate, Congressman and now as the Whip in the GOP House leadership.
After World War II George Marshall, who was serving as Secretary of State and later as Secretary of Defense, had to deal with an increasingly divided world. Today, the Congressman has a tough job in an increasingly divided Washington.
Congressman, we are giving you two things today. First is something you have never seen. It is a mix jar of sand from two places America’s hold sacred, Iwo Jima and Omaha Beach. Please keep it near your phone, on your desk and use it as a constant reminder of what George Marshall accomplished in World War II
Second, is this silver eagle. May it continue to soar like your career, Sir!