Author: Douglas MacArthur

Douglas MacArthur, Harry S. Truman Library and Museum, 1945

Douglas MacArthur (1880–1964) served his country as a soldier for more than sixty years. He found his fame as the commander who led America’s withdrawal from the Philippines with the words “I shall return”—a promise he would fulfill. For his leadership in the defense of the Philippines, MacArthur was awarded the Medal of Honor, making him and his father Arthur MacArthur Jr. the first father-son pair to be awarded the nation’s highest military honor. In 1951, after President Harry S. Truman relieved him of command in Korea, MacArthur famously bid the American people farewell: “like the old soldier of [the West Point ballad], I now close my military career and just fade away, an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty.”

Duty, Honor, Country

Douglas MacArthur

In 1962, Douglas MacArthur (1880–1964) was honored by the West Point Association of Graduates with the Sylvanus Thayer Award, given “to an outstanding citizen of the United States whose service and accomplishments in the national interest exemplify personal devotion to the ideals expressed in the West Point motto, “DUTY, HONOR, COUNTRY.” Delivered before 2,100 cadets, both the occasion and MacArthur’s speech emphasize the importance of honor, not only as a reward but also as a guiding principle of worthy service.