Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Douglas MacArthur

American General and Field Marshal of the Philippine Army, Chief of Staff of the United States Army, Awarded the Medal of Honor

"I know war as few other men now living know it, and nothing to me is more revolting. I have long advocated its complete abolition, as its very destructiveness on both friend and foe has rendered it useless as a method for settling international disputes."

"Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old only by deserting their ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkles the soul."

"And in the end, through the long ages of our quest for light, it will be found that truth is still mightier than the sword. For out of the welter of human carnage and human sorrow and human weal the indestructible thing that will always live is a sound idea."

"The great question is: can war be outlawed? If so, it would mark the greatest advance in civilization since the Sermon on the Mount."

"The inescapable price of liberty is an ability to preserve it from destruction."

"There is no security on this earth; there is only opportunity."

"War’s very object is victory, not prolonged indecision. In war there is no substitute for victory."

"A better world shall emerge based on faith and understanding."

"Any manifest error on the part of an enemy should make us suspect some stratagem."

"In war, as it is waged now, with the enormous losses on both sides, both sides will lose. It is a form of mutual suicide; and I believe that the entire effort of modern society should be concentrated on an endeavor to outlaw war as a method of the solution of problems between nations."

"Built me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak and when he is afraid... whose wishes will not take the place of deeds; a son who will know Thee... whose heart will be clear, whose goal will be high, a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men."

"Moral courage, the courage of one’s convictions, the courage to see things through. The world is in a constant conspiracy against the brave. It’s the age-old struggle – the roar of the crowd on one side and the voice of your conscience on the other."

"The history of failure in war can be summed up in two words: Too Late."

"Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old by deserting their ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkles the soul… You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair."

"There is no security on this earth, there is only opportunity."

"The next great advance in the evolution of civilization cannot take place until war is abolished."

"It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it."

"Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old by deserting their ideals. You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair."

"Youth is not a time of life--it is a state of mind. Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years; people grow old by deserting their ideals. Years may wrinkle your skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles your soul. You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubts; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair. In the central place of your heart there is a recording chamber; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, and courage--so long are you young. When the wires are all down and your heart is covered with the snow of pessimism and the ice of cynicism, then--and only then--are you grown old."

"A general is just as good or just as bad as the troops under his command make him."

"A new era is upon us. Even the lesson of victory itself brings with it profound concern, both for our future security and the survival of civilization. The destructiveness of the war potential, through progressive advances in scientific discovery, has in fact now reached a point which revises the traditional concepts of war."

"Americans never quit."

"Age wrinkles the body. Quitting wrinkles the soul."

"Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it."

"And like the old soldier in that 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 sight to see that duty."

"Could I have but a line a century hence crediting a contribution to the advance of peace, I would gladly yield every honor which has been accorded me in war."

"Defensive strategy never has produced ultimate victory."

"Duty, Honor, Country - those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought 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."

"Expect only 5% of an intelligence report to be accurate. The trick of a good commander is to isolate the 5%."

"Efforts have been made to distort my position. It has been said, in effect, that I was a warmonger. Nothing could be further from the truth. I know war as few other men now living know it, and nothing to me is more revolting. I have long advocated its complete abolition, as its very destructiveness on both friend and foe has rendered it useless as a means of settling international disputes. ... But once war is forced upon us, there is no other alternative than to apply every available means to bring it to a swift end."

"China, up to 50 years ago, was completely non-homogenous, being compartmented into groups divided against each other. The war-making tendency was almost non-existent, as they still followed the tenets of the Confucian ideal of pacifist culture. At the turn of the century, under the regime of Chang Tso Lin, efforts toward greater homogeneity produced the start of a nationalist urge. This was further and more successfully developed under the leadership of Chiang Kai-Shek, but has been brought to its greatest fruition under the present regime to the point that it has now taken on the character of a united nationalism of increasingly dominant, aggressive tendencies."

"Few names have left a firmer imprint upon the pages of the history of American times than has that of Ty Cobb... he seems to have understood that in the competition of baseball, just as in war, defensive strategy never has produced ultimate victory."

"Give me ten thousand Filipino soldiers and I will conquer the world."

"Found a little patched-up inn in the village of Bulson.... Proprietor had nothing but potatoes; but what a feast he laid before me. Served them in five different courses: potato soup, potato fricassee, potatoes creamed, potato salad, and finished with potato pie. It may be because I had not eaten for 36 hours, but that meal seems about the best I ever had."

"I had learned one of the bitter lessons of life: never try to regain the past, the fire will have become ashes."

"I have just returned from visiting the Marines at the front, and there is not a finer fighting organization in the world!"

"I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God, our forces stand again on Philippine soil."

"History fails to record a single precedent in which nations subject to moral decay have not passed into political and economic decline. There has been either a spiritual awakening to overcome the moral lapse, or a progressive deterioration leading to ultimate national disaster."

"However horrible the incidents of war may be, the soldier who is called upon to offer and to give his life for his country is the noblest development of mankind."

"I address you with neither rancor nor bitterness in the fading twilight of life, with but one purpose in mind: to serve my country. The issues are global and so interlocked that to consider the problems of one sector, oblivious to those of another, is but to court disaster for the whole. While Asia is commonly referred to as the Gateway to Europe, it is no less true that Europe is the Gateway to Asia, and the broad influence of the one cannot fail to have its impact upon the other."

"Here are centered the hopes and aspirations and faith of the entire human race. I do not stand here as advocate for any partisan cause, for the issues are fundamental and reach quite beyond the realm of partisan consideration. They must be resolved on the highest plane of national interest if our course is to prove sound and our future protected. I trust, therefore, that you will do me the justice of receiving that which I have to say as solely expressing the considered viewpoint of a fellow American."

"I am concerned for the security of our great Nation; not so much because of any threat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within."

"I am closing my 52 years of military service. When I joined the Army, even before the turn of the century, it was the fulfillment of all of 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 barrack ballads of that day which proclaimed most proudly that "old soldiers never die; they just fade away.""

"I came out of Bataan and I shall return!"

"I promise to keep on living as though I expected to live forever. Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old only by deserting their ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkles the soul."

"I realize that advice is worth what it costs--that is, nothing."

"I said, to the people of the Philippines whence I came, I shall return. Tonight, I repeat those words: I shall return!"

"I see that the flagpole still stands. Have your troops hoist the colors to its peak, and let no enemy ever haul them down."

"I stand on this rostrum with a sense of deep humility and great pride — humility in the weight of those great American architects of our history who have stood here before me; pride in the reflection that this home of legislative debate represents human liberty in the purest form yet devised."

"I still remember the refrain of one of the [West Point] barracks ballads ... which proclaimed most proudly that old soldiers never die; they just fade away. And like the old soldier in that 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."