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Duty, Honor, Country: General Douglas MacArthur's Final Speech at West Point


On Saturday, May 12, 1962, the legendary General Douglas MacArthur accepted the Sylvanus Thayer Award and delivered his final speech at the United States Military Academy at West Point. A 1903 graduate of the Academy, MacArthur also skillfully served as superintendent of West Point after the First World War. Through his heroics across the battlefields of the Great War, World War II, and Korea, he truly lived out the motto of the Academy, “Duty, Honor, Country,” in everything that he did. In his speech to the corps of cadets on May 12, MacArthur emphasized the profound meaning of that motto in a way that only a soldier of his magnitude could have done.

Among his many unforgettable remarks that day, perhaps MacArthur’s greatest lesson was this: “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.” He also reminded the cadets, “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.”

A recording of MacArthur's May 12th speech to the corps of cadets at West Point.

Remembered as his "Duty, Honor, Country" speech, General MacArthur’s immortal words will forever echo across the sacred grounds of the United States Military Academy at West Point.

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