Study Guide

George Catlett Marshall Jr. in Tear Down This Wall

By Ronald Reagan

George Catlett Marshall Jr.

When George was a wee lad, he was a troublemaker and a subpar student. But that didn't stop him from becoming one of the biggest names in American military history.

He spent his early life slacking off on his studies and being a generally lazy and mischievous dude. But once he decided that he wanted to be a military man, he buckled down, beefed up his study habits, and got after it. He took everything he learned during World War I and used it to help the U.S. navigate World War II and beyond.

George Marshall is the namesake of the Marshall Plan (originally called the European Recovery Program), which was basically a ginormous economic aid program the United States implemented after WWII. The Plan called for $13 billion—yeah, billion—to be spent helping post-war Europe rebuild and get back on its economic feet.

And if you think that's a lot of money now, it was a boatload of money back in the 1940s.

Marshall received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953 for his work, and the Marshall Plan is often talked about as one of the greatest pieces of diplomatic legislation in American history. Maybe one of the greatest pieces of diplomatic legislation ever.

But Marshall took it all in stride and didn't let the fame monster get him. He spent his retirement at his home in Leesburg, Virginia, and concentrated on his two favorite non-military pastimes: horseback riding and gardening. (Aww.)

We bet the orchestrator of Europe's post-war recovery could grow the heck out of some vegetables.

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