Saturday, July 12, 2014

Douglas MacArthur Assures That World War II Ends on An Honorable, Solemn Note

What a complex, contradictory, egotistical, stubborn, paradoxical, courageous, brave, great 20th century military strategist and leader Douglas MacArthur was.  I finished a great book, “The Most Dangerous Man in America - The Making of Douglas MacArthur.”  I learned much about WWII and leadership.  I learned much about his complicated relationship with President Roosevelt, who considered he and Huey Long the two most dangerous men in America, and how competitive relationships among military leaders can sometimes achieve great, high-level results.   
 
I have a friend who values great, historic speeches and addresses.  He carries them in his briefcase.  The MacArthur speech I will end this blog with is short, but the setting is dramatic and the words are wise, honorable and visionary. 
 
General Douglas MacArthur arrived, with his entourage, in Yokohama, Japan after word of the Japanese surrender.  There was no assurance his arrival would not be met with gunfire.  No surrender documents had been signed.  He and his staff piled in a Japanese-organized motorcade for the twenty-mile trip into downtown Yokohama.  MacArthur’s staff insisted he be accompanied by armed guards and vehicles.  MacArthur waived it off.  He wanted the Japanese to know that he was coming as their friend. Winston Churchill would later call this decision one of the bravest acts of World War II. 
 
It took MacArthur two hours to travel through the rubble of Yokohama.  On both sides of the road, Japanese soldiers and citizens turned their backs to him……a sign of respect accorded only to the emperor.  As MacArthur assumed his position in his suite at The New Grand Hotel in Yokohama, five hundred troops of the 11th Airborne fanned out around the hotel for protection. 
 
On the morning of Sunday, September 2, MacArthur drove from The New Grand Hotel to Yokohama Naval Base, where he was put aboard a launch for the USS Missouri which lay anchored in Tokyo Bay.  He had spent the previous day mapping out the surrender ceremonies, including a diagram designating where each of his fellow commanders would stand.  A short time after his arrival, a delegation of eleven Japanese officials, all dressed in formal attire, with top hats, arrived, led by the Foreign Minister Shigemitusu.
 
There was no cheering; the sailors of the Missouri, including 1st Shipmate Ervin A. Godfrey, a very proud uncle of mine from North Carolina, watched in silent awe.  As MacArthur stepped to the microphone, he began:  
 
“We are gathered here, representatives of the major warring powers, to conclude a solemn agreement whereby peace may be restored.  The issues, involving divergent ideals and ideologies, have been determined on the battlefields of the world and hence are not for our discussion or debate.” 
 
The Japanese watched him closely, with one of them later noting that his hands trembled, if only slightly.  MacArthur, his voice steady, went on:
 
“It is my earnest hope and indeed the hope of all mankind, that from this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past…..a world founded upon faith and understanding…….a world dedicated to the dignity of man and the fulfilment of his most cherished wish…….for freedom, tolerance and justice.” 
 
MacArthur had written the words himself, without help from his staff, and without reviewing them with anyone.  He wanted to set a calm tone with simple sentences shorn of triumph.  It was, without question, biographer Mark Perry believes, Douglas MacArthur's finest speech and his finest moment.  After the signing of the surrender documents, MacArthur returned to the microphone:  
 
“Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world and that God will preserve it always.  These proceedings are now closed.” 
 
And with those words, World War Two ended.

(Source: Mark Perry’s, “The Most Dangerous Man In America - The Making of Douglas MacArthur.”)  

Sunday, June 1, 2014

PRESIDENT KENNEDY AND CIGARS

I ENJOY A GOOD CIGAR.

HERE, PRESIDENT KENNEDY LIGHTS UP CIGAR - WITH HIS CLOSE FRIEND SENATOR GEORGE SMATHERS OF FLORIDA - IN THEIR BACHELOR DAYS JFK AND SMATHERS SHARED A TOWNHOUSE IN UPSCALE GEORGETOWN (WASHINGTON D.C.).

IF YOU DO NOT KNOW THE STORY, AS TOLD BY PIERRE SALINGER, OF JFK 'S CUBAN EMBARGO DELAY DUE TO HIS LOVE OF CIGARS, CLICK HERE FOR A GREAT VIDEO AND STORY. 
 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Dr. Martin Luther King - "LETTER FROM BIRMINGHAM JAIL" - April 16,1963

"But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice:... "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream." Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God." And John Bunyan: "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." And Abraham Lincoln: "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free." And Thomas Jefferson: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal ..." So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime---the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists."--- Dr. Martin Luther King ("LETTER FROM BIRMINGHAM JAIL"
April 16, 1963).

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Great Abe Lincoln

"I am slow to listen to criminations among friends, and never espouse their quarrels on either side. My sincere wish is that both sides will allow bygones to be bygones, and look to the present and future only.” Abraham Lincoln 8/31/1860

Library of Congress image

Monday, March 17, 2014

A South Carolina Wade Hampton Political Button

Above is an incredibly rare South Carolina trigate (political button containing three photographs) featuring Colonel, Governor, and later-US Senator Wade Hampton, and US Senators, Matthew C. Butler and Martin Gary. The pin commemorates the 1926 50th anniversary of Hampton's inauguration as Governor of South Carolina, and the election of Butler and Gary to the U.S. Senate. All three men served together in the Civil War.  It is, again, a very rare southern trigate.

I am pleased to have added it to my collection recently.  I love for the history, the provenance, the beauty, and the excellent condition of this historic piece.  South Carolina's southern, political history is without rival.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Fascinating Story of the Demise of The Big East

‘Requiem for the Big East’ is a great ESPN 30/30 production about the rise and fall of a great American institution and sports enterprise, the Big East Athletic Conference.  It’s just a fascinating American story about an institution, and an athletic conference, built on American capitalism and brought down by the same.  Greed and capitalism made the conference and the same destroyed it.  So paradoxical, like so much in America. 
 
It is amazing to watch the conference come out of small campus gyms in the late 70s and early 80s and then rise to national prominence in Madison Square Garden, Boston Garden, The Spectrum, and the Carrier Dome.  The rise paralleled the birth and rise of ESPN, located in Bristol, Conn., in the heart of Big East country.  The league coaches were an amazing cast of characters, Lou Carnesecca, Boeheim, Big John Thompson, Rollie Massimino, Pitino.  And the Syracuse/Georgetown rivalry became classic.   
 
The conference demise began with football as BC, VT and Miami left for bigger bucks, then Syracuse / Pitt leaving in 2011 sealed it.  This 30/30 production is a must see for anyone interested in the dynamics of American sports culture in 21st century and how TV contracts and the infusion of economic stimulus can impact American culture.  I highly recommend this ESPN 30/30 production. (It is on 'Demand')

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