Adapted from a speech
General Douglas MacArthur delivered at
Every cadet entering the U.S. Military Academy receives a copy of the
They are great words
not only for every soldier, but every citizen.
These hallowed words reverently dictate,
Your rallying points that you postulate,
What you ought to be, can be, will be.
Serve as your safeguard against calumny.
They build courage when all seems to fail,
Regain lost faith whenever assailed,
Create hope when you become forlorn,
And master one's self against forces ill borne.
To unbelievers they're but words-a flamboyant phrase,
Who ridicule, mock and in all manner dispraise,
But the character those words mold is immense,
For they build custodians of our nation's defense.
They make you strong to know when you're weak,
Brave to face yourself when life seems bleak.
Proud and unbending in honest failure,
Humble and gentle in successes you procure.
Seek not paths of comfort or trade words for action,
But face the spur of difficulty and trials of malefaction,
In the raging storm, learn to stand and not flail,
While having compassion on those who would fail.
Master yourself before seeking to master others,
Nurture a clean heart and encourage likewise your brothers,
Learn to laugh yet never forget how to weep,
Reach to the future yet never neglect the past, bitter or sweet.
Be serious but not too seriously yourself take,
Be modest by remembering and not to abate,
The simplicity of true greatness and an open mind,
Of wisdom and meekness are true strengths refined.
These hallowed words can give you a temper of will,
A quality of imagination and vigor of emotions distilled,
A freshness of deep springs of life that will please,
And courage over timidity, adventure over love of ease.
Allow them to create in your heart the sense of wonder,
The unfailing hope of what is to be, not put asunder,
In these find the joy and inspiration of life's command,
These building blocks of an officer and a gentleman.