This general knew ‘To ignore aggression is to invite it’

By Bill Federer

Omar Bradley

Five-Star General Omar Bradley died April 8, 1981. In August 1944, General Omar Bradley led the 12th Army Group in France and Germany, consisting of a million men in four armies.

President Johnson addressed him, May 23, 1964: “General Bradley, you were the field commander of more American fighting troops than any commander in any era.”

Born 1893, in his grandparents’ cabin a short distance from Clark, Missouri, Omar Bradley would walk to school with his father, and would help provide food for his family through hunting and fishing. Omar Bradley was 12 years old when his father died.

He became a star player on his high school baseball team. In his autobiography, “A General’s Life – An Autobiography by General of the Army Omar N. Bradley” (Simon & Schuster, 1983), Omar Bradley stated: “The editor of the 1909 yearbook wrote of me, ‘a good ball player, if he does not look like one.'”

Omar Bradley worked for Wabash Railroad, similar to another Missouri leader, Harry S. Truman, who worked for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway.

Like Harry S. Truman, who attended a Presbyterian Sunday School, Omar Bradley attended a Central Christian Church Sunday School, as he stated in “A General’s Life” (1983): “Father was raised in the Church of Christ, baptized by immersion at about age 15 and called a ‘Christian.’ Mother, like all the Hubbards, was a Baptist, but she converted to the Christian Church. We walked to the Church of Christ every Sunday, wearing our finest clothes. … Although mother was not a devout woman, she was a regular Sunday churchgoer, as was I. We joined the Central Christian Church, an impressive new stone structure with a soaring steeple and a large congregation.”

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Omar Bradley’s church attendance was providential, as it was his Sunday School superintendent at Central Christian Church in Moberly, Missouri, who recommended he apply to West Point.

President Eisenhower said, April 29, 1954: “I thank General Bradley, my old comrade in arms, my classmate from West Point, my great associate in World War II.”

Bradley commanded the 2nd Army Corps in North Africa, was Senior Commander of U.S. Ground Forces for the invasion of France. General Omar Bradley wrote of being on the USS Ancon during the invasion of Sicily, July of 1943, (“A General’s Life – An Autobiography by General of the Army Omar N. Bradley,” Simon & Schuster, 1983, p. 181): “Paratroopers left him with no immediate reserves ashore to call on. Allen’s sector was thus a potential weak link in the beachhead chain. And yet I counted our blessings. All our forces had got ashore with negligible casualties and were displaying remarkable aggressiveness. Surveying the chaotic beaches with binoculars from the bridge of the Ancon I offered a silent prayer of thanks to God. The Allies had returned to Europe to stay.”

General Omar Bradley was quoted in Edgar F. Puryear’s “19 Stars: A Study in Military Character and Leadership” (1981): “Dependability, integrity, the characteristic of never knowingly doing anything wrong, that you would never cheat anyone, that you would give everybody a fair deal. Character is a sort of an all-inclusive thing. If a man has character, everyone has confidence in him. Soldiers must have confidence in their leader.”

General Omar Bradley was Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, 1948-49, and first chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1950.

President Gerald Ford remarked upon presenting Omar Bradley with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Jan. 10, 1977: “Military hero, courageous in battle, and gentle in spirit, friend of the common soldier, General of the Army, first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he embodies the best of the American military tradition with dignity, humanity, and honor.”

General Omar Bradley stated in an Armistice Day speech, Nov. 10, 1948 (published in “Omar Bradley’s Collected Writings,” Volume 1, 1967): “To ignore the danger of aggression is simply to invite it. … We shall doom our children to a struggle that may take their lives. … We know that unless free peoples stand boldly and united against the forces of aggression, they may fall wretchedly, one by one, into the web of oppression.”

General Omar Bradley stated: “We have men of science, too few men of God. We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount. The world has achieved brilliance without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. … If we continue to develop our technology without wisdom or prudence, our servant may prove to be our executioner.”

In contrast to totalitarian dictators he fought against, General Omar Bradley stated in his Armistice Day Address, Nov. 10, 1948: “In the United States it is the people who are sovereign … The government is theirs – to speak their voice and to voice their will.”

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