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A model for current generals to emulate

The “four-star lifestyle” of generals described by The Post in a Nov. 18 front-page article contrasts sharply with the five-star lifestyle of Gen. George C. Marshall, the Army’s chief of staff from 1939 to 1945.

Marshall often told his driver to hide evidence of his rank as they drove through Washington, so he would not attract undue attention. He sometimes told the driver to pick up a GI on the street, which led to considerable surprise when the soldier climbed into the back seat to find the chief of staff.

Marshall lived in Quarters 1 at Fort Myer and had a second home (Dodona Manor) in Leesburg, which is open to the public. The Marshalls’ lifestyle there was far from manorial, however: He and his wife purchased secondhand furniture and Marshall worked on hands and knees in his vegetable garden. Guests, including Army Air Forces Gen. Henry “Hap” Arnold and Madame Chiang Kai-shek, sometimes toiled in Marshall’s garden, too.

Marshall’s five-star rank entitled him to one orderly in retirement, not a full contingent of leaf-rakers and chefs.

As Thomas E. Ricks points out in his new book, “The Generals,” the quality of Army generalship has declined since George Marshall.

Tom Bowers, Ashburn

The writer is director of docents at Dodona Manor in Leesburg.

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. famously said, “The reward of a general is not a bigger tent but command.” What would he think of the perks now enjoyed by our generals? A bigger tent would hardly satisfy them.

Robert F. Allnutt, Bethesda

Some Post columns and letters to the editor suggest that imposing consequences for poor sexual behavior by political leaders is an artifact of a Puritan era. I disagree. While we should not condemn any individual, we can and must judge actions such as lying, cheating and being unfaithful to one’s spouse as wrong.

Virtues such as honesty and faithfulness should always be honored. We should pray especially for the spouses and children affected by such scandals, not whitewash the behavior as if it hurts no one.

Those who believe otherwise might recall that we pay huge sums every year to deal with broken families and abandoned spouses and children. Countenancing such behavior leads to great personal and social heartache by fooling people into thinking there are no consequences to so-called private behavior. Deep down, people know right from wrong, no matter how hard modern society tries to desensitize us.

We would all be better off if more people would embrace the way of living that God knows makes us happiest and treat others the way we wish to be treated.

Cathy Marshall, Manassas

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