American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964

Manchester, William

Little, Brown, 1964

p. 661

MacArthur’s speech before the joint houses of Congress, 1948, just after President Truman had sacked him for insubordination: “’I am closing my fifty-two years of military service. When I joined the army, even before the turn of the century, it was the fulfillment of all my boyish hopes and dreams. The world has turned over many times since I took the oath on the Plain at West Point, and the hopes and dreams have long since vanished. But I still remember the refrain of one of the most popular barracks ballads of that day, which proclaimed, most proudly, that ‘Old Soldiers never die. They just fade away.’ And like the soldier of the 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. (The last word was a hush) Goodbye.’ He . . . stepped down into pandemonium. The legislators were sobbing their praise, struggling to touch his sleeve, all but prostrating themselves in his path. Representative Dewey Short shouted:’We heard God speak here today, God in the flesh, the voice of God!’ . . . In New York Herbert Hoover called MacArthur ‘a reincarnation of St. Paul into a great General of the Army who came out of the East.’ Cheeks were wet, voices hoarse, chests heaving. Truman was less elegant . . . for all the ‘carrying on’ and the ‘damn fool Congressman crying like a bunch of women,’ it was, said the President, ‘a hundred percent bullsh*t.’”