Duty, Honor, Country essay Summary

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On May 12, 1962, General Douglas MacArthur addressed the cadets at the West Point Military Academy, during the reception for the Thayer Award. This award is given to an “…outstanding citizen of the United States whose service and accomplishments in the national interest exemplify personal devotion to the ideals expressed in the West Point motto, duty, honor, country” (Winston). As the one receiving this prestigious award, General MacArthur truly exemplified these values as he had acquired the rank of General of the Armed Forces while serving in World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. Within the speech “Duty, Honor, Country,” MacArthur utilizes the art of rhetoric to instill upon the cadets the importance of those three titular words during their service to the United States of America.

General MacArthur purposes logos within his address to the cadets at West Point Military Academy during the award ceremony for the Thayer Award. MacArthur’s use of logos can be noted within the following phrase, “We speak in strange terms: of harnessing the cosmic energy; of making winds and tides work for us; of creating unheard synthetic materials to supplement or even replace our old standard basics; to purify seawater for our drink…of ultimate conflict between a united human race and the sinister forces of some other planetary galaxy… And through all this welter of change and development, your mission remains fixed, determined, inviolable: it is to win our wars”(General MacArthur). The logic(logos) behind this phrase is that despite all the changes that may occur during a soldier’s life; to protect the United States of America from all harm that may attempt to befall it. Within the speech, Duty, Honor, Country the exertion of logos plays a quaint act to establish the role of what a true soldier is in American society.

The use of pathos within any speech can be a very effective tool for a speaker, as seen in General MacArthur’s speech Duty, Honor, Country. His primary usage of pathos can be seen in his guarantee of betterment under the circumstances that the cadets maintain the values instilled in them by the West Point Military Academy. This promise of gain can be seen in MacArthur’s phrase, “Duty, Honor, Country: Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be”(General MacArthur). MacArthur’s use of pathos is emphasized primarily through the use of anaphora in order to create a sense of repetition as to where the cadets are beginning and where they will be in the future if they follow the motto issued within them by the West Point Military Academy.

MacArthur is also seen appealing to the religious aspect of the soldiers as he says, “In battle and in the face of danger and death, a soldier discloses those divine attributes which his Maker gave when he created man in his own image. No physical courage and no brute instinct can take the place of the Divine help which alone can sustain him”(General MacArthur) This turns upon the religious ties of the soldiers in order to be rid of any fears that they might have of battle. There are also aspects of fear tied to MacArthur’s use of pathos as can be seen in the phrase, “The Long Gray Line has never failed us. Were you to do so, a million ghosts in olive drab, in brown khaki, in blue and gray, would rise from their white crosses thundering those magic words: Duty, Honor, Country”(General MacArthur).

This appears to instill a sense of fear upon the cadets who may fail this challenge at hand, as MacArthur’s imagery rich metaphor of the “spirits of past soldiers rising in order to thunder the mantra” of duty, honor, and country to the cadets who fail to uphold these values. MacArthur can also be seen instilling this fear of failure in the phrase, “Yours is the profession of arms,  the will to win, the sure knowledge that in war there is no substitute for victory; that if you lose, the nation will be destroyed; that the very obsession of your public service must be: Duty, Honor, Country”(General MacArthur). A very emotional speech, “Duty, Honor, Country” appears to be General Douglas MacArthur’s final words to the United States military and the young cadets that are being handed with the safety of the United States of America to give them a state of what a real soldier is and what it takes to be a real cadet.

Ethos is a major aspect of General Douglas MacArthur’s speech as he was a prominent figure who prospered during multiple wars under the values instilled within him at the West Point Military Academy and wished to pass those same values onto the cadets listening to him on that insightful day. In General MacArthur’s speech ethos is spread through his use of personal experience and credentials in order to show that he too has been in the same shoes as the cadets there that day were in and that by upholding the values given to him during his time at West Point he had managed to become the man he was applying those virtues as an everyday asset.  By doing this MacArthur is able to ally a bond with his audience as can be seen in the following quote, “But this award is not intended primarily to honor a personality, but to symbolize a great moral code — the code of conduct and chivalry of those who guard this beloved land of culture and ancient descent…For all eyes and for all time, it is an expression of the ethics of the American soldier. That I should be integrated in this way with so noble an ideal arouses a sense of pride and yet of humility which will be with me always”(General MacArthur). A speech has no impact without tieing a relationship to the audience, which is why ethos is one of the most prominently used literary elements within General Douglas MacArthur’s speech.

General Douglas MacArthur’s speech Duty, Honor, Country charges the West Point Military Academy cadets and all future soldiers with the safety of the United States of America under the hymn of duty, honor, and country. This address contains very dominant usage of rhetoric appeal. The usages of those literary elements show his primary method of appealing to his audience was through the use of authority closely followed by emotion. Ethos and pathos combine to form a very vigorous speech that addresses each and every cadet as a fellow soldier of the United States of America while instilling within them the necessity for duty, honor, and country before all else. MacArthur’s address Duty, Honor, Country, packed with logos ethos and pathos, appeared to be his final one as he left saying, “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”(General MacArthur).

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Duty, Honor, Country essay Summary. (2021, Feb 28). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/duty-honor-country-essay/



What is the main message of Duty Honor Country?
The main message of Duty Honor Country is to instill a sense of duty, honor and patriotism in the hearts and minds of soldiers, urging them to serve their country with utmost dedication and selflessness. It is a call to uphold the highest standards of integrity, courage and loyalty while defending the nation's freedom and democracy.
Where does Duty Honor Country come from?
The phrase "Duty, Honor, Country" is the motto of the United States Military Academy at West Point, first articulated by its founder, General Sylvanus Thayer, in 1833.
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