29 Farewell Address to Congress
By Douglas Macarthur
Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, and distinguished members of the Congress:
I stand on this rostrum with a sense of deep humility and great pride.
Humility in the wake 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.
Here are centered the hopes and aspirations and faith of the entire human race. I do not stand here as advocate of 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 cause 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 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 cause 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.
There are those who claim our strength is inadequate to protect on both fronts, that we cannot divide our effort. I can think of no greater expression of defeatism. If a potential enemy can divide his strength on two fronts, it’s for us to counter his efforts.
Beyond pointing out these general truisms, I shall confine my discussion to the general areas of Asia. Before one may objectively assess the situation now existing there, he must comprehend something of Asia’s past, and the revolutionary changes which have marked her course up to the present.
Long exploited by the so-called colonial powers, with little opportunity to achieve any degree of social justice, individual dignity or higher standard of life, such as guided our own noble administration of the Philippines. The peoples of Asia found their opportunity in the war just passed to throw off the shackles of colonialism, and now see the dawn of new opportunity: a heretofore unfelt dignity and the self-respect of political freedom.
Mustering half of the earth’s population and sixty percent of its natural resources, these peoples are rapidly consolidating a new force, both moral and material, with which to raise their living standard and the adaptations of the design of modern progress to their own distinct cultural environments.
Whether one adhere to the concept of colonization or not, this is the direction of Asian progress and it may not be stopped. It is a corollary to the shift of the world economic frontiers as the whole epicenter of world affairs rotates back toward the area whence it started.
In this situation, it becomes vital that our own country orient its policies in constancy with this basic evolutionary condition rather than pursue a course blind to the reality that the colonial era is now past and the Asian peoples covet the right to shape their own free destiny. What they seek now is friendly guidance, understanding and support, not imperialist directions.
It was my constant effort to preserve them, and end the savage conflict honorably and with the least loss of time and in minimum sacrifice of life. Its growing bloodshed has caused me the deepest anguish and anxiety. Those gallant men will remain often in my thoughts and my prayers, always.
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 WestPoint, 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. And like the old soldier of 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. Good-bye.