DUTY - HONOR - COUNTRY
General Douglas MacArthur on May 12, 1962, received the Thayer Award for service to the nation and delivered, without notes, his last major address, certainly his finest. He dearly loved West Point, where he had held the highest scholastic record in a quarter of a century. Among his competitors was Ulysses S. Grant III, grandson of Gen. U.S. Grant. MacArthur was an impressive cadet, 6 ft. tall and athletic. He played on the baseball team. Everyone remembers him as being clean cut, devoted, aggressive, highly regarded, and very popular. He was a frequent visitor at the gymnasium where he worked out to keep himself fit. It was a great day, June 11,1903, when he received his Second Lt. commission and diploma. His father, General Arthur MacArthur was there on this historic day. 90 days after graduation MacArthur was on board ship on his way to the Philippines where he received his baptism of fire. So it was a deeply emotional event when the old soldier, who vividly recalled his last days at the academy in 1903, had returned in 1962 to give his finest speech. In his most eloquent moment, one filled with humility, MacArthur delivered, without notes, a message from his heart. Below is the last part of his speech:
GENERAL MacARTHUR'S ADDRESS TO WEST POINT CADETS
You are the leaven which binds together the entire fabric of our national system of defense. From your ranks come the greatest 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 war mongers.
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 thought will be The Corps - and The Corps - and The Corps.
I bid you farewell.