The son of Civil War hero Lt. General Arthur MacArthur,
Douglas MacArthur was a brilliant, controversial, aloof,
egotistical, imperious, courageous, highly intelligent
five-star U.S. Army General.
Strongly dedicated to country and duty, and gifted with
superior command ability, MacArthur's military service
included important command assignments in the both
World Wars and the Korean War.
MacArthur's career begins with his graduation,
with the highest honors, from West Point in 1903
During World War One, MacArthur commanded the
42nd "Rainbow" Division of the Allied Expeditionary Force in France.
His command was distinguished and he was wounded
After the War, MacArthur was superintendant of West Point
In January of 1930 he was promoted to full General,
4 stars and named the U.S. Army's Chief of Staff.
MacArthur retired from the Army in 1937, one year after the
President of the Phillipines, Manuel Quezon, appointed him
Field Marshall of the Phillipine Army.
In 1941 MacArthur was recalled to active duty as the U.S.
prepared to enter World War Two.
By 1942 MacArthur was Supreme Allied Commander
of the Southwest Pacific theater
In 1942 he was, like his father before him, awarded the Medal of Honor.
In January of 1945, MacArthur was promoted to the rank of five star General.
On September 2, 1945 on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay,
MacArthur accepted Japan's unconditional surrender
In June 1950, with the beginning of the Korean War,
MacArthur was appointed the Supreme United Nations commander.
However, on April 11, 1951 he was relieved of his command by
MacArthur, always brash, had publically disagreed with the politicians.
There was an unsuccessful attempt to get MacArthur to run for the
Presidency in 1952. He spent the last 12 years of his life living in
New York City speaking out on public issues and advising
General Douglas MacArthur died at Walter Reed Army Hospital
14 April 1964
Before being laid to rest in Norfolk, Va.,
General MacArthur's body lay in state in New York City,
and in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, while a grateful Nation
paid its tribute in sorrow
General MacArthur's Thayer Award Speech
Duty - Honor - Country
The address by General of the Army Douglas MacArthur
to the cadets of the U.S. Military Academy in accepting the
Sylvanus Thayer Award on 12 May 1962, is a memorable
tribute to the ideals that inspired that great American soldier.
For as long as other Americans serve their country as courageously
and honorably as he did, General MacArthur's words will live on.
Duty - Honor - Country
No human being could fail to be deeply moved by such a tribute
as this, Thayer Award.
Coming from a profession I have served so long and a people I
have loved so well, it fills me with an emotion I cannot express.
But this award is not intended primarily to honor a personality,
but to symbolize a great moral code-a code of conduct and chivalry
of those who guard this beloved land of culture and ancient descent.
For all hours and for all time, it is an expression of the ethics of
the American soldier.
That I should be integrated in this way with so noble an ideal
arouses a sense of pride, and yet of humility, which will be
with me always.
Duty, honor, country: Those three hallowed words reverently
dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be.
They are your rallying point to build courage when courage seems
to fail, to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith,
to create hope when hope becomes forlorn.
Unhappily, I possess neither that eloquence of diction, that poetry
of imagination, nor that brilliance of metaphor to tell you all that
The unbelievers will say they are but words, but a slogan,
but a flamboyant phrase.
Every pedant, every demagogue, every cynic, every hypocrite,
every troublemaker, and, I am sorry to say, some others of an
entirely different character, will try to downgrade them even to
the extent of mockery and ridicule.
But these are some of the things they do.
They build your basic character.
They mold you for your future roles as the custodians of the
They make you strong enough to know when you are weak,
and brave enough to face yourself when you are afraid.
What the Words Teach
They teach you to be proud and unbending in honest failure,
but humble and gentle in success, not to substitute words for
actions, not to seek the path of comfort, but to face the stress
and spur of difficulty and challenge, to learn to stand up in the
storm, but to have compassion on those who fall; to master
yourself before you seek to master others, to have a heart that is
clean, a goal that is high, to learn to laugh, yet never forget how
to weep, to reach into the future, yet never neglect the past,
to be serious, yet never to take yourself too seriously, to be
modest so that you will remember the simplicity of true greatness,
the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength.
They give you a temperate will, a quality of the imagination,
a vigor of the emotions, a freshness of the deep springs of life,
a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity,
of an appetite for adventure over love of ease.
They create in your heart the sense of wonder, the unfailing
hope of what next, and joy and inspiration of life.
They teach you in this way to be an officer and a gentleman.
And what sort of soldiers are those you are to lead?
Are they reliable?
Are they brave?
Are they capable of victory?
Their story is known to all of you.
It is the story of the American man-at-arms.
My estimate of him was formed on the battlefield many, many years
ago, and has never changed.
I regarded him then, as I regard him now, as one of the world's
noblest figures; not only as one of the finest military characters,
but also as one of the most stainless.
His name and fame are the birthright of every American citizen.
In his youth and strength, his love and loyalty, he gave all that
mortality can give.
He needs no eulogy from me; or from any other man.
He has written his own history and written it in red on
his enemy's breast.
But when I think of his patience in adversity of his courage
under fire and of his modesty in victory, I am filled with an emotion
of admiration I cannot put into words.
He belongs to history as furnishing one of the greatest examples
of successful patriotism.
He belongs to posterity as the instructor of future generations
in the principles of liberty and freedom.
He belongs to the present, to us, by his virtues and by
Witness to the Fortitude
In 20 campaigns, on a hundred battlefields, around a thousand
camp fires, I have witnessed that enduring fortitude, that patriotic
self-abnegation, and that invincible determination which have
carved his statue in the hearts of his people.
From one end of the world to the other, he has drained deep the
chalice of courage.
As I listened to those songs of the glee club, in memory's eye,
I could see those staggering columns of the first World War,
bending under soggy packs on many a weary march, from
dripping dusk to drizzling dawn, slogging ankle deep through
the mire of shell-pocked roads to form grimly for the attack,
bule-lipped, covered with sludge and mud, chilled by the wind
and rain, driving home to their objective, and for many to the
judgment seat of God.
I do not know the dignity of their birth, but I do know the glory
of their death.
They died, unquestioning, uncomplaining, with faith in their hearts,
and on their lips the hope that we would go on to victory.
Always for them: Duty, honor, country. Always their blood, and sweat,
and tears, as we sought the way and the light and the truth.
And 20 years after, on the other side of the globe, again the filth
of murky foxholes, the stench of ghostly trenches, the slime of
dripping dugouts, those boiling suns of relentless heat, those torrential
rains of devastating storms, the loneliness and utter desolation of
jungle trails, the bitterness of long separation from those they loved
and cherished, the deadly pestilence of tropical disease,
the horror of stricken areas of war.
Swift and Sure Attack
Their resolute and determined defense, their swift and sure attack,
their indomitable purpose, their complete and decisive victory,
always through the bloody haze of their last reverberating shot,
the vision of gaunt, ghastly men, reverently following your password of
Duty, Honor, Country.
The code which those words perpetuate embraces the highest
moral law and will stand the test of any ethics or philosophies ever
promulgated for the things that are right and its restraints are from
the things that are wrong.
The soldier, above all other men, is required to practice the greatest
act of religious training--sacrifice. In battle, and in the face of danger
and death, he discloses those divine attributes which his Maker gave
when He created man in His own image. No physical courage and no
greater strength can take the place of the divine help which alone
can sustain him.
However hard the incidents of war may be, the soldier who is called
upon to offer and to give his life for his country is the noblest
development of mankind.
You now face a new world, a world of change.
The thrust into outer space of the satellite, spheres, and missiles marks
a beginning of another epoch in the long story of mankind.
In the five or more billions of years the scientists tell us it has taken to
form the earth, in the three or more billion years of development of the
human race, there has never been a more abrupt or staggering evolution.
We deal now, not with things of this world alone, but with the illimitable
distances and as yet unfathomed mysteries of the universe.
We are reaching out for a new and boundless frontier.
We speak in strange terms of harnessing the cosmic energy, of making
winds and tides work for us, of creating unheard of synthetic materials to
supplement or even replace our old standard basics, to purify sea water
for our drink, of mining ocean floors for new fields of wealth and food,
of disease preventatives to expand life into the hundred of years,
of controlling the weather for a more equitable distribution of heat and cold,
of rain and shine, of spaceships to the moon, of the primary target in war,
no longer limited to the armed forces of an enemy, but instead to include
his civil populations; of ultimate conflict between a united human race
and the sinister forces of some other planetary galaxy, of such dreams
and fantasies as to make life the most exciting of all times.
And through all this welter of change and development your mission
remains fixed, determined, inviolable.
It is to win our wars.
Everything else in your professional career is but corollary to this
All other public purposes, all other public projects, all other public needs,
great or small, will find others for their accomplishment, but you are the
ones who are trained to fight.
The Profession of Arms
Yours is the profession of arms, the will to win, the sure knowledge that
in war there is no substitute for victory, that if you lose, the Nation will be
destroyed, that the very obsession of your public service must be
Duty, Honor, Country.
Others will debate the controversial issues, national and international,
which divide men's minds. But serene, calm, aloof, you stand as the
Nation's war guardian, as its lifeguard from the raging tides of international
conflict, as its gladiator in the arena of battle.
For a century and a half you have defended, guarded, and protected its
hallowed traditions of liberty and freedom, of right and justice.
Let civilian voices argue the merits or demerits of our processes of government:
Whether our strength is being sapped by deficit financing indulged in too long,
by Federal paternalism grown too mighty, by power groups grown too arrogant,
by politics grown too corrupt, by crime grown too rampant, by morals
grown too low, by taxes grown too high, by extremists grown too violent,
whether our personal liberties are as thorough and complete as they should be.
These great national problems are not for your professional participation
or military solution.
Your guidepost stands out like a ten-fold beacon in the night:
Duty, Honor, Country.
You are the leaven which binds together the entire fabric of our national system
From your ranks come the great Captains who hold the Nation's destiny in their
hands the moment the war tocsin sounds.
The long, gray line has never failed us.
Were you to do so, a million ghosts in olive drab, in brown khaki, in blue and gray,
would rise from their white crosses, thundering those magic words:
Duty, Honor, Country.
Prays for Peace
This does not mean that you are warmongers.
On the contrary, the soldier above all other people prays for peace,
for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.
But always in our ears ring the ominous words of Plato,
that wisest of all philosophers:
"Only the dead have seen the end of war"
The shadows are lengthening for me.
The twilight is here.
My days of old have vanished, tone and tint.
They have gone glimmering through the dreams of things that were.
Their memory is one of wondrous beauty, watered by tears,
and coaxed and caressed by the smiles of yesterday.
I listen vainly, but with thirsty ear, for the witching melody of faint bugles
blowing reveille, of far drums beating the long roll.
In my dreams I hear again the crash of guns, the rattle of musketry,
the strange, mournful mutter of the battlefield.
But in the evening of my memory always I come back to West Point.
Always there echoes and re-echoes:
Duty, Honor, Country.
Today marks my final roll call with you.
But I want you to know that when I cross the river, my last conscious
thoughts will be of the corps, and the corps, and the corps.
I bid you farewell
Click Here To
Return To The Site Options
"Al Varelas's USMC Web Site"