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Douglas MacArthur’s “Duty, Honor, Country” (1962)

General Douglas MacArthur delivered this speech to West Point graduates when he received their Thayer Award – given to a citizen whose service and accomplishments in the national interest exemplify personal devotion to the ideals expressed in the West Point motto. In his address, MacArthur described the West Point motto, “Duty, Honor, Country” and the code of perseverance and responsibility, and “conduct and chivalry” of the American soldier. “‘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.”

He discussed civilian control of the military and emphasized that, by serving in the military, the soldier holds the nation’s fate in his hands: “You are the leaven which binds together the entire fabric of our national system of defense.” He asserted that soldiers could not endure what they do without God’s sustaining help, and added that “the soldier above all other people prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.”