Thursday, May 12, 2011

May 12, 1962: Douglas MacArthur’s “Duty, Honor, Country” Speech

On this date, General Douglas MacArthur delivered his Duty, Honor Country speech at West Point. From a rhetorical viewpoint, this is a remarkably well-crafted speech and would be well worth a close classroom examination. Just as an example, here are the concluding lines:

The shadows are lengthening for me. The twilight is here. My days of old have vanished - tone and tints. 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 then, but with thirsty ear, 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 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.

They don’t speechify like they used to. Here is the link to the words and a recording:     


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