Saturday, May 12, 1962: 'Duty, Honor, Country'

Retired Gen. Douglas MacArthur gives a speech at the U.S. Military Academy as he accepts the Sylvanus Thayer Award for service to his country. The speech to the Corps of Cadets, both sweeping and personal, is a stirring explanation of "why we fight."

Its two most memorable passages, the first from the beginning of the speech:

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 points: 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.

MacArthur concludes with:

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 ears, 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.

Portions of the speech would later be engraved on a series of walls at West Point as part of a MacArthur memorial.

Life magazine photo from 1947.

* Transcript of speech (from www.americanrhetoric.com): @
* Listen to the speech: @
* Entry from "Lend Me Your Ears: Great Speeches in History" (book by William Safire, 2004): @
* "Douglas MacArthur: Warrior as Wordsmith" (book by Bernard K. Duffy and Ronald H. Carpenter, 1997): @
* Remembrances of the event: @

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