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Douglas MacArthur, American General Essay

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Updated: Jun 17th, 2022

The history of the great country that is the United States is punctuated by great personalities who have made great contributions towards its status. Consequently, history has mapped both sung and unsung heroes who went the extra mile to ensure the integrity of America was maintained. General Douglas MacArthur often appears in the list of the greatest American Generals who defended the sovereignty of this great in battle. General MacArthur, nicknamed Big Chief by his comrades, was a five-star general and a renown Field Marshal. In the 1930s, MacArthur served as the ‘Chief of Staff of the United States Army’ where he was a key personality in the ‘Pacific theater’ camping during the World War II.

MacArthur served alongside his father at one time during his military career in the Philippines. McArthur’s service as a general was acknowledged through various awards and promotions. For instance, McArthur was awarded with the ‘Medal of Honor’ and he was also able to rise through the ranks to become a Field Marshal and a General. Historians have been kind with their assessment of General MacArthur’s military career and his contributions to history. However, another group of thought is of the view that MacArthur is one of the most overrated war generals in America. This essay seeks to provide evidence as to why General MacArthur should be considered as one of the greatest general of the 20th Century.

The character of General MacArthur preceded his military career. One message of condolence after MacArthur’s read; “General Douglas MacArthur’s true greatness lay in his absolute devotion to his country, his refusal to compromise his idealism, his personal integrity. In a word, his greatness was his character” (***). The qualities that were exhibited by MacArthur impressed fellow military men, politicians, and ordinary citizens too. By the time of his death, MacArthur’s prowess as a military General was yet to be matched by his predecessors. Observers note that General MacArthur was a true American hero who was shrouded by an air of mystique that made his military contributions unlike those of his fellow generals (*****).

One unique factor that made General MacArthur the greatest is the fact that his skills originated from military college. Records indicate that MacArthur’s performance record in the military academy was only surpassed by that of Robert E. Douglas during the time of his graduation. Consequently, the General was destined for greatness right from the moment he stepped of a military college. Soon after, the top-notch student ventured into the battle fields of World War I where he soon started the “Rainbow Division”, a unit that he was soon commanding. Subsequently, General MacArthur became a legend of sorts owing to his fast achievements at such a young age. Soon after, he became known as the ‘Kid General’ and there were various stories outlining his bravery in the battlefront.

The legend of General Mac Arthur the kid general continued during the World War II when he was sent to the Philippines by President Roosevelt as a Commander of the US Army. In Manila, the General faces his first real test when his troops came under heavy attack from the Japanese. Although MacArthur was unwavering in his attacks against the Japanese, President Roosevelt recalled him to America in 1942. After being recalled to America, General MacArthur promised to go back to the Philippines and claim his victory against the Japanese. True to his word, the general went back to Manila where he finally achieved his victory against the Japanese.

His superiority over Japanese gave him unprecedented power even when it came to charting the Pacific treaties. On the other hand, President Truman felt that General MacArthur deserved to be prompted. Consequently, the President gave MacArthur the governorship of the conquered Japanese territory. After becoming the governor of the new territory, MacArthur went on to become one of the most revered men in the whole of Japan. The initial achievement of General MacArthur were enough testament that he was not an ordinary military operative, but he was a skilled strategist who completed his missions with outmost precision.

After MacArthur had achieved the undisputed status of the invincible General, he was soon confronted with one of the most challenging tests yet through the Korean War. The United Nations’ troops had already received massive casualties from the Communist troops. On the other hand, it had appeared that the once revered General was soon going to face defeat in Korea. However, the ingenuity of General MacArthur’s military prowess once again came to play when “came up with the amphibious landing that would eventually drive the Communists north into the arms of the Chinese” (****).

The General’s plan worked just fine but he was soon set aback by the unexpectedness of the actions of the Chinese soldiers when they turned on Allied Forces. This surprise development was also a contributing factor in ending the military career of the revered soldier. After the Chinese attacked his troops, MacArthur suggested to President Truman that the war be taken to their own soil. However, President Truman was against this radical idea, and when MacArthur insisted on his suggested course of action, he was recalled from the war. Korea marked the end of the road for the decorated General MacArthur and he never actively served in the United States military again. However, the General was already aging when he went to the Korean campaign.

The greatness of General MacArthur was later to be reiterated by the protests that followed his recall from the United States military. When he got to America, millions of people waited in the streets with the goal of expressing their support for him. Most people were of the view that General MacArthur “embodied the voice of real America above any other man of that time….a man who selflessly gave to his country shows his rapport with the people” (***). This support also showed that the General’s latest spat with the American executive did not reflect public interest.

For instance, during a ceremony to award the war hero a ticker tape in the New York City, seven million people showed up. It was also thought that General MacArthur was going to vie for presidency, but he did not. Overall, MacArthur’s greatness lay in ability to make a tangible connection with the American people especially the ordinary citizens. Therefore, “through his remarkable military career, and controversial dismissal, MacArthur embodied the hopes and ideals of the most revered heroes in America’s past….because MacArthur not only spoke of the ideals of America, he demonstrated them to the greatest degree, he was a great American” (***).

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Douglas MacArthur, American General." June 17, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/douglas-macarthur-american-general/.


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