Myron Taylor, who had once said that personal publicity should be limited to "a brief mention of birth, marriage and death," had never been elected to public office, but he was, however, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the United States Steel Corporation, one of the largest and most important commercial enterprises in the entire world. President Roosevelt appointed Taylor to serve as the President's "Ambassador Extraordinary" to Pope Pius XII at the Vatican during the dark and critical times just preceding America's entry into World War II.
Taylor's diplomatic contributions to America (and the world) were many and significant, as he was thrust into numerous critical geopolitical matters, including efforts to keep Italy, Spain, and Portugal from entering World War II (as Axis members); helping to secure Lend-Lease aid to Russia (in its darkest hour against the Nazis); efforts to save European Jews and to deal with the Holocaust (and interacting directly with Pope Pius XII in those efforts); ensuring that the Vatican did not oppose the Allies' unconditional surrender policy; and helping Italy to recover after the War. Taylor's lack of a need for public ego-gratification would prove to be of immense importance in fulfilling his diplomatic work, initially for President Roosevelt and later for President Truman. In awarding Taylor the presidential Medal for Merit, Truman praised Taylor for having "earned the accolades of his countrymen whom he has served faithfully and well wherever duty called him." And, upon his death on May 6, 1959, the New York Times, after reviewing his "extraordinary abilities" and his multifaceted career, employed considerable understatement when it concluded that "his was, indeed, a useful life."
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