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General Douglas MacArthur's Farewell Speech: the long gray line has never failed us.
National Center for Public Policy Research - A Conservative Think Tank ^ | May 12, 1962 | General Douglas MacArthur

Posted on 01/31/2004 5:22:33 AM PST by risk

General Douglas MacArthur's Farewell Speech

Given to the Corps of Cadets at West Point

May 12, 1962

General Westmoreland, General Groves, distinguished guests, and gentlemen of the Corps. As I was leaving the hotel this morning, a doorman asked me, "Where are you bound for, General?" and when I replied, "West Point," he remarked, "Beautiful place, have you ever been there before?"

No human being could fail to be deeply moved by such a tribute as this, 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 for a personality, but to symbolize a great moral code - the code of conduct and chivalry of those who guard this beloved land of culture and ancient descent. That is the meaning of this medallion. For all eyes 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 want 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 they mean.

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 nation's defense. They make you strong enough to know when you are weak, and brave enough to face yourself when you are afraid.

They teach you to be proud and unbending in honest failure, but humble and gentle in success; not to substitute words for action; 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 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 imagination, a vigor of the emotions, a freshness of the deep springs of life, a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, an appetite for adventure over love of ease. They create in your heart the sense of wonder, the unfailing hope of what next, and the 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 battlefields 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 under 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 his achievements.

In twenty campaigns, on a hundred battlefields, around a thousand campfires, 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 mire of shell-pocked roads; to form grimly for the attack, blue-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 they saw the way and the light.

And twenty years after, on the other side of the globe, against the filth of dirty foxholes, the stench of ghostly trenches, the slime of dripping dugouts, those boiling suns of the relentless heat, those torrential rains of devastating storms, the loneliness and utter desolation of jungle trails, the bitterness of long separation of those they loved and cherished, the deadly pestilence of tropic disease, the horror of stricken areas of war.

Their resolute and determined defense, their swift and sure attack, their indomitable purpose, their complete and decisive victory - always 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 laws and will stand the test of any ethics or philosophies ever promulgated for the uplift of mankind. Its requirements are 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 brute instinct can take the place of the Divine help which alone can sustain him. However horrible 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 marked the beginning of another epoch in the long story of mankind - the chapter of the space age. 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 greater, 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 synthetic materials to supplement or even replace our old standard basics; of purifying 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 space ships 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 time.

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 vital dedication. All other public purpose, all other public projects, all other public needs, great or small, will find others for their accomplishments; but you are the ones who are trained to fight.

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 guardians, as its lifeguards from the raging tides of international conflict, as its gladiators 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 firm 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 tenfold beacon in the night: Duty, Honor, Country.

You are the leaven which binds together the entire fabric of our national system of defense. 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.

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 tints. 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 then, 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 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.

Historical Documents National Center Home Page

TOPICS: Australia/New Zealand; Canada; Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Government; Israel; Japan; Philosophy; US: Virginia; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: douglasmacarthur; dutyhonorcountry; freedom; macarthur; price; speech; thingrayline; transcript
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Someone must post this every few months, but it's my turn. I happened on this speech again tonight. It stands for itself. No matter what one thinks of MacArthur (and he is unquestionably one of America's greatest heroes in my opinion), this speech has a message for our time and every time when freedom loving people face a threat to their way of life.
1 posted on 01/31/2004 5:22:34 AM PST by risk
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To: risk
Agreed - thank you very much for posting this on the FR website.

[I have often wondered why it is "Duty, Honor, Country" and not "Country" first ...?]

2 posted on 01/31/2004 5:27:27 AM PST by jamaksin
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To: Cincinatus' Wife; Travis McGee; Grampa Dave; SAMWolf; Squantos; Jeff Head; patton; ...
3 posted on 01/31/2004 5:29:36 AM PST by risk (In war there is no substitute for victory.)
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To: LindaSOG; Old Sarge; 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub; bentfeather; Diva Betsy Ross; Molly Pitcher
4 posted on 01/31/2004 5:32:09 AM PST by risk (Duty, Honor, Country)
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To: risk
MacArthur was a hero? What did he do that was heroic? Walked on a beach and exclaimed, "I have returned." While troops secured the area to make sure his photo-op was safe and Wainwright and the others were dieing in a death camps.

Or was it, when he tear gassed the WWI veterans and burned down the Hooverville in Washington DC disobeying two direct orders from the President Hoover not to do it. During this heroic attack on unarmed families two infants died of aphyxiation due to the tear gas.

Not we have returned, but I have returned. Only a bum would think this egotistical jackass was a hero.

5 posted on 01/31/2004 5:44:32 AM PST by RunningJoke
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To: RunningJoke
Warts, blemishes, mistakes and all the rest, I'm glad he was on our side. The democratic nation of Japan is his direct handiwork.
6 posted on 01/31/2004 5:52:32 AM PST by Eric in the Ozarks
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To: RunningJoke
If I have the priviledge of being called a bum for lionizing Douglas MacArthur then so be it.
7 posted on 01/31/2004 5:55:36 AM PST by risk
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To: Eric in the Ozarks
Hate to tell you this, it was the grunt that won that war and democratized Japan not the general. It always amazed me that I know of two distinct times when MacArthur disobeyed orders from Hoover and Truman. But when Roosevelt ordered him to flee the Philippines he didn't disobey that order.
8 posted on 01/31/2004 5:59:47 AM PST by RunningJoke
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To: risk
MacArthur certainly was one of the great generals in history. WWI Medal of Honor. His stand at Corregidor tied down the Japanese for many more months than expected,slowing their eastward conquests. He was "ORDERED" to leave the Philippines. The photographers,movie and still, were"imbedded" with landing units(think Rosenbloom at IWO).They were already ashore when MacArthur arrived. IT WAS NO SETUP. His "Island hopping" strategy SAVED LIVES and SHORTENED WWII. The landing at Inchon was one of the greatest feats of generalship in military history. His turning Japan into a democracy was masterful leadership. He was a staunch anti-communistand is the reason he is reviled by the mass media.
9 posted on 01/31/2004 6:13:17 AM PST by captbarney
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To: captbarney
And he warned us that terror would be the result of losing in Korea.
10 posted on 01/31/2004 6:20:30 AM PST by risk
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To: RunningJoke

If you want to make a case for or against include everything--unless ofcourse if doing so would tend to attack your position.
That you position is shakey is indicated by the angry name calling you wrap things up with.

Disagree with you and a person is a "bum". Ok genius, whatever.
11 posted on 01/31/2004 6:30:06 AM PST by TalBlack ("Tal, no song means anything without someone else...")
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To: RunningJoke
The Japanese thought MacArthur was god, but built whore houses for American sailors and troops. My dad was there as part of the occupation structure (he served in the CBI) and my mom and I joined him in 1951 thru 1961. You might pick up "Embracing Defeat" by John Dower (the book won the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award) that covers this period.
MacArthur made a few mistakes here, too, but the Japanese would've reverted to their Fascist ways had it not been for his approach.
12 posted on 01/31/2004 7:05:17 AM PST by Eric in the Ozarks
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To: risk
13 posted on 01/31/2004 7:08:55 AM PST by litehaus
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To: harpseal; Travis McGee; Squantos; sneakypete; Chapita
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."
14 posted on 01/31/2004 7:09:31 AM PST by razorback-bert
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To: RunningJoke
I doubt I could change your mind on MacArthur, but this is a great speech.
15 posted on 01/31/2004 7:10:22 AM PST by razorback-bert
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To: TalBlack
"Disagree with you and a person is a "bum". Ok genius, whatever."

You are correct and I apologize for the name calling. I got emotional a few things trigger my emotions. One of these is lying to the American People ala Bill Clinton and of course creating false heroes of men that probably deserved a prison term than lionization from his sycophantic followers.

No, old Generals don't fade away their bad history is covered up while their achievements are magnified to exaggeration.

MacArthur was the Wesley Clark of his time.
16 posted on 01/31/2004 7:25:23 AM PST by RunningJoke
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To: RunningJoke
Hate to tell you this, it was the grunt that won that war and democratized Japan not the general.

Granted a General is nothing without his grunts, but grunts without a leader are lost in the big picture. In the small picture they have performed phenomenally, but they alone could not have beaten Japan.

They needed a leader. MacArthur was their leader.

17 posted on 01/31/2004 8:18:57 AM PST by Eaker (Place your clothes and weapons where you can find them in the dark. - Lazarus Long)
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To: Eaker
He was the leader selected. That does not mean another leader could not have prospered, perhaps one not as vainglorious as MacArthur. Correct me, if I'm wrong but the Pacific theatre was more of a naval war. Our game plan was to go around the heavily fortified islands.

"Granted a General is nothing without his grunts, but grunts without a leader are lost in the big picture."

It's funny you bring that up. My father's unit would target the German officers because although the Germans were excellent soldiers they were more dependent on their leaders. The American soldier as well as the American citizen in general, especially during WWII, were more independent and could actually fight with the absence of officers; they would fight for each other, in what most people would call Esprit de corps. It was your job, to keep moving and take objectives. That is the greatest single point to bring home about the American fighting man. It is not blind faith in his leaders but his willingness to get the job done.

This above paragraph is what my father knew to be true and most of history is willing to write off about Americans or misplace credit to the Generals.

And here's news, the atomic bomb was probably more effective than any single reason that broke the Japanese resolve. My father was ecstatic that Truman dropped the bombs. His unit had just received his orders to ship out to the Pacific. He had already missed death three times in ETO's combat. He figured he had used up most of his luck.
18 posted on 01/31/2004 9:41:07 AM PST by RunningJoke
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To: risk
If you have a MacAuthur's ping list, please put me on it. The General is one of history's greatest commanders. And my personal hero.
19 posted on 01/31/2004 9:44:44 AM PST by jpsb (Nominated 1994 "Worst writer on the net")
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To: RunningJoke
Well let's start with world war 1, Mac Author was the most decorated American (officer) in that war. He personally lead numerous patrols and recon missions into enemy territory. Two or three times nominated for the medal of honor. Also of note, is that at the time he was the division executive officer and later the division commanding officer. Here was one general that led from the front.

In one particularly difficult battle his division was order to take an objective or turn in a 100% causality report. 100% causalities, means do or die. He personally led the attack on the position and took it. I could continue and will continue until I pound into you how full of it you are.

20 posted on 01/31/2004 10:12:57 AM PST by jpsb (Nominated 1994 "Worst writer on the net")
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