Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Monday, January 25, 2016

Posting #1000: Douglas MacArthur's Tribute to the Doughboys

Today – on eve of the day that the design for the long-waited national World War One Memorial is to be announced – I thought this posting would be a suitable one, in the spirit of the moment and to mark the occasion of our 1000th posting on Roads to the Great War since May 15, 2013.  (Don't forget to use our search function at the top of the page or the archives listing in the right column to search for articles on your favorite topics.)

General Douglas MacArthur's Sylvanus Thayer Award Acceptance Address – his "Duty, Honor, Country" speech – included a wonderful tribute to America's Doughboys of the Great War.

12 May 1962
General MacArthur Reviewing the Corp of Cadets After the "Duty, Honor, Country" Speech

As I listened to those songs [of the glee club], in memory's eye I could see those staggering columns of the First World War, bending under soggy packs, on many a weary march from dripping dusk to drizzling dawn, slogging ankle-deep through the mire of shell-shocked roads, to form grimly for the attack, blue-lipped, covered with sludge and mud, chilled by the wind and rain, driving home to their objective, and for many, to the judgment seat of  God.

I do not know the dignity of their birth, but I do know the glory of their death. They died unquestioning, uncomplaining, with faith in their hearts, and on their lips the hope that we would go on to victory. Always, for them: Duty, Honor, Country; always their blood and sweat and tears, as we sought the way and the light and the truth.

Listen to the entire speech at:


  1. Thanks for sharing!

  2. General MacArthur should honor the Dough Boys. He broke up their bonus march and encampments in Washington D.C. during the depths of the depression. They were there to ask for a bonus promised to them for their WWI service. They were no threat to the nation.

  3. Mr. Vandenbrul is correct but he only tells part of the story. MacArthur was under orders from Herbert Hoover to break up the occupation of the Bonus Marchers. Two people were killed. By contrast, when FDR broke up the strikers in the San Francisco Dock Strike of 1934 (without MacArthur's presence), dozens of strikers were killed, so it is possible that he was a moderating presence. Also, not often mentioned is that FDR also stiffed the Bonus Marchers, denying them an acceleration of their bonuses later in the 1930s.

  4. The speech was moving. I have a copy and it always send chills through my body. It stated the warrior ethos for the soldiers of all nations. As for the bonus march, a very poor decision made by the Hoover Administration. Manchester in his biography of MacArthur lays the blame at Hoover's feet. MacArthur was ordered to use the Army to clear the Bonus Marchers from the city. Eisenhower was his aide at the time and disagreed with the decision. Adding insult to injury, MacArthur wore his uniform which Ike urged him not to do. It was not the Chief of Staff of the Army to personally command the troops detailed to evict the vets. It was sloppily carried out, and created ill-feelings among American citizens.

  5. Congratulations on your 1000th post.
    The treatment of the Bonus Marchers: not so much.
    Treatment of the African American troops: despicable.

  6. 1,000 posts! Bravo for maintaining such a stimulating, informative site for so long.
    Best wishes for the years to come.

  7. Congratulations on your 1000th post -- what a treasure for all of us who enjoy the insights and opinions.