Duty Honor Country- Douglas Macarthur

“And through all this welter of change and development, your mission remains fixed, determined, inviolable: it is to win our wars,” this statement embodies Douglas Macarthur’s Speech “Duty, Honor, Country”. It was given in 1962 in acceptance of the Thayer Award, “The Award given… citizen of the United States, whose outstanding character, … comparison to the qualities for which West Point strives, in keeping with its motto - Duty, Honor, Country. ” (AOGUSMA) It has been presented to other distinguished leaders such as Former Presidents Dwight D.

Eisenhower and Ronald Regan, all of who upheld American values and the pillars, Duty, Honor and Country of the US Army. General Douglas Macarthur was one of four Men to reach the position of General of the Armed forces while serving in World War One, World War two, and the Korean War. His Credentials are long including involvement in over 20 different campaigns. Throughout his career he was known as a decisive leader with a humanitarian mindset.

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Often referred to as the “Warrior as a Wordsmith,”(Duffy 86) he spoke in a convincing manner, playing to the audience and reusing effective statements from earlier speeches.

The quotation cited at then beginning of this paper resonates on some of the strongest points in his speech, such as change, the strength and balance of a soldier, and war. Similarly, my thesis is: in his final deliberative yet demonstrative speech, General Douglas MacArthur re-instills pride, and balance in a morally, and politically damaged Army while providing a clear focus and guidance for all Americans to change by.

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By using parallel construction, constitutive rhetoric, and strong American ideographs, General Douglas Macarthur effectively creates a social cry for understanding and recommitment to the American dream.

In this historical situation, he confronts what he calls the “ Unbelievers”, or the growing class of “civilian voices [who] argue the merits or demerits of government…and whether our personal liberties are as through.. as they should be. ” General Douglas Macarthur’s open resentment for the Vietnam War, and involvement in Indochina is overshadowed by the misinterpretation of the Armed forces, and what this profession does for the nation. “Macarthur had long seen the United States’ role in Asia, for he had repeatedly warned, “It is here in Asia that the first guns of the next world war will sound. (Kelly 172)” His focus is not only on the graduates, but also on the American people, to express the universality of our problems, and the unity needed to continue. General Macarthur establishes his ethos with a small joke in the beginning of his speech: ”As I was leaving the hotel this morning, a doorman asked me, "Where are you bound for, General? " And when I replied, "West Point," he remarked, "Beautiful place. Have you ever been there before? ” In the recording he then interrupts the laughter, immediately switching to the concise rhetoric of the speech.

This small instance has a huge impact on his image. He is now cast as a strong personality, with great knowledge of the armed forces, and with a huge message to send to these graduates. This knowledge base is present throughout the speech in his use of many highly recognizable Ideographs, such as: strength, sacrifice, America, and liberty. These words rhetorically link Macarthur to the West Point soldiers showing that the American Army has not deviated from the “Long Grey Line”. Macarthur truly connected with th younger generations of soldiers. On his tour of the South Korean front Macarthur didn’t like what he saw. His troops were young and inexperienced, they were being outgunned by superior tanks, but they were not being outfought. They were fighting back with every weapon they possessed and with all the tenacity they could muster against a fierce, ruthless enemy. ” Macarthur would go on the comment that this was the “long grey line”, the same one he had fought with years before. Macarthur continues to establish himself as understanding of the new cadets, “You are the leaven which binds together the entire fabric of our national system of defense.

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. ” In this quotation General Macarthur’s ethos and career are alluded to. He talks about a great captain that with rise out of this class, and in fact Macarthur graduated first in his class and rose to control great power, showing that the life of a soldier has not varied, and neither have its morals. As stated before Macarthur is troubled by the discontent, and overall vilification of the Army in this time.

The ideograph destiny is used as a specific goal for not only all these graduates but also the one leader who will come out of this class. Destiny is used as an inspiration, or a drive for these men and women to reach, but moreover as that “Long Grey Line” that has, and will be present through these times. These points are accompanied by his assumption of retirement and the latter years of his time, which help solidify his ethos. He continually states the amount of time he has given to the service, and how much he has gotten out of it.

At the end of the speech he says, “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. ” This gives the speech a huge breath of information, and emotional value. General Macarthur lived his life according to the pillars of Duty, Honor, and Country, three parallel strands that have stayed with him. This parallelism is reflected in the speech. The Army creed, Duty, Honor, Country is repeated eight times. This speech was to a hall of men and woman who also proudly associated themselves with the US Army.

Individually duty, honor, country are strong ideographs, but together they ring true for the corps. Duffy puts is well,” After all duty is what one ordinarily obliged to do; achieving honor for so doing exemplary performance; but to do this not for personal recognition but for country implies altruism on who’s behalf people might giver their lives. ( 115)” This is a great definition of what this creed means for the cadets. These guidelines are utilized for maximum resonance: “The probably of recalling a repeated word is about twice the probably a unique word. Perelman 471)” However, in this case the memorability is greater because of previous habit. Duffy Writes, “advantage accrues… whereby thresholds vary inversely with frequency of prior usage…Of all the words uttered at West Point, Duty, Honor, Country clearly had the advantage for emphasis and resultant memorability. (119)” Macarthur ends each of his main points with the army creed. For the audience, this ties every lesson, whether it is civilian versus army focus, the history of west point, or the pride in fighting for this nation into a strong physical application of what a soldier should do.

Macarthur takes their training and puts it into action. Parallelism is also used in explaining the Army creed. Anaphora is used to emphasize these points. Macarthur repeats “they” in seven consecutive sentences. “The parallelism evinces, Onkos, a stylistic quality of elevation or dignity from its suggestive… content thus described. (Duffy 120)” In other words when Macarthur states, “ they teach you in this way to be an officer and a gentleman,” this evokes a since of pride in a training these cadets have worked so hard to complete. In a very strong statement he says, “This does not mean that you are war Mongers. On the ontrary, the soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war. ” This balance in the character, and actions of a soldier make it possible for our leaders to trust them in time of action and more importantly in times of peace. This ying and yang is another strong parallel throughout the speech. In other words the combination of a demonstrative and deliberative speech styles. He promotes this learning process further: “they teach you in this way to be an officer and a gentleman,” elevating a soldier to a level of understanding and knowledge unlike the average civilian.

General Macarthur speaks of pride, character, love and respect, all of which a soldier has. Richards says on pg 92, “one must not focus to narrowly, and display a sense of balance in the rhetoric. ” For the audience this balance emphasis their training, for the nation this balance is a reminder of the highly volatile climate the nation was in. Reilly states, “when the 1960s began, Americans were comfortably wrapped in postwar complacency, barely suspecting the enormous changes their country would endure in the coming decade. XI)” However, the most important rhetorical aspect of this balance was to establish the Army with a youthful, open-minded, multifaceted entity. Showing that these men a women, in their “heart [establish] the sense of wonder, the unfailing hope of what next, and the joy and inspiration of life. ”

Macarthur’s insight into change also shines light on the significance of growing technologies, and soon the new frontier of space. “You now face a new world -- a world of change. The thrust into outer space of the satellite, spheres, and missiles mark the beginning of another epoch in the long story of mankind. Although his examples of planetary war and the control of the weather seem farfetched today, his excitement in technology still stands for a focus on change. The constitutive rhetoric is associated with the guidance for the future. He sets up this situation when he tells them, “We speak in strange terms: of harnessing the cosmic energy…of the primary target in war, no longer limited to the armed forces of an enemy, but instead to include his civil populations; of ultimate conflict between a united human race and the sinister forces of some other planetary galaxy,” a fairly exciting statement, but he does not leave any loose ends.

Macarthur goes on to say “And through all this welter of change and development, your mission remains fixed, determined, inviolable: it is to win our wars. ” He effectively provides a clear path,. Another example of constitutive rhetoric is: “Others will debate the controversial issues, national and international, which divide men's minds; but serene, calm, aloof, you stand as the Nation's war-guardian, as its lifeguard from the raging tides of international conflict, as its gladiator in the arena of battle. Here Macarthur places an importance in maintaining an identity as a soldier in an ever-changing world. The water metaphor in this quotation symbolizes the abundance of opportunity for conflict, but moreover more opportunity for the “lifeguards” of this nation to act. Macarthur was considered a great rhetorician. Duffy and Kelly both explain his obsession with wording and resonance with the audience. They say that he would spend hours making sure the speech sounded ad lib and pure.

In Duty, Honor, Country Macarthur focuses on his relationship with the cadets. He is known for his “stylistic prowess, … which by definition, requires Macarthur to articulate the prevailing sentiments of the audience. (Duffy 115)” The rhetoric resembles orders given to a cadet, with quick repetition that is quickly understood. Macarthur makes these guidelines seem like orders that must be carried out through these cadets whether its in the line of fire, in the media spotlight or even in daily life.

Through the speech Duty, Honor, Country General Douglas Macarthur embodies the past present and future of the Armed forces with his rhetoric asking for change, understanding and balance. The parallel consistency of the speech gives strength and flexibility. The constitutive rhetoric provides guidance for these soldiers in a time of uncertain futures, and the prospect of being in harms way. Macarthur effectively and clearly impacted the mindset of West point graduates who will carry on his legacy as part of the “Long Grey Line. ”


Duffy, Bernard K. and Ronald H. Capenter Douglas MacArthur: Warrior as Wordsmith. Westport, CN: Greenwood Press, 1997 Kelly, Frank. MacArthur: Man of Action. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Co. , Inc. , 1951. Perelman, Chaim and L. Olbrechts-Tyteca, tr John Wilkinson and Purcell Weaver. The New Rhetoric: A Treatise On argumentation.

Notre Dame, IN : University of Notre Dame Press, 1969. Richards, Jennifer. Rhetoric, the New Critican Idion. New York: Routlidge, 2008 Rielly, Edward J. American Popular Culture Through History: The 1960s. Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2003. Association of Graduates United States Military Academy- West Point. Sylvanus Thayer Award. http://www. aogusma. org/aog/awards/TA/thayer. htm

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Duty Honor Country- Douglas Macarthur. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/duty-honor-country-douglas-macarthur-new-essay

Duty Honor Country- Douglas Macarthur
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