Gen. Douglas MacArthur delivered his farewell address to Congress on this day in history, April 19, 1951, uttering the famous line, “Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.”
Eight days before the speech, MacArthur had been relieved of his duties as general of the U.S. Army by President Harry S. Truman — putting an end to his storied military career.
“I am closing my 52 years of military service,” said MacArthur in the speech, which is available on the Library of Congress website.
“When I joined the Army, even before the turn of the century, it was the fulfillment of all my boyish hopes and dreams,” he also.
“The world has turned over many times since I took the oath at West Point, and the hopes and dreams have all since vanished,” MacArthur said, “but I still remember the refrain of one of the most popular barracks ballads of that day, which proclaimed most proudly that old soldiers never die; they just fade away.”
General Douglas MacArthur, former commander of Allied forces — first in World War II and then in Korea — seen here delivering his farewell address to a joint session of Congress. (Corbis via Getty Images)
MacArthur was referring to an old army ballad, “Old Soldiers Never Die,” said the Library of Congress.
“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,” said MacArthur.
“Goodbye,” he then said.
MacArthur’s dismissal came after repeated clashes with Truman regarding strategy in the Korean War, according to the website for the PBS documentary series “American Excellence.”
The general did not approve of Truman’s strategy for the conflict, seeking instead to engage in a more intense war in Asia in order to stem the spread of communism.
“No soldier has ever captured the American imagination like Douglas MacArthur. He led Americans into combat for a half-century, through glorious victories and soul-numbing defeats,” said PBS.
“Courageous and supremely egotistical, he battled anyone who dared question his military judgment — even the president of the United States,” it also said.
General Douglas MacArthur in Berlin, photograph taken on July 9, 1932. (Imagno/Getty Images)
MacArthur, who was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1880, graduated from the U.S. Military Academy West Point in 1903, as Fox News Digital previously reported.
In 1937, MacArthur retired from the U.S. Army.
Four years later, however, the situation in the Pacific worsened and the then-U.S. Commonwealth of the Philippines was threatened by the ever-creeping Japanese forces.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt plucked MacArthur out of retirement, designating him the general in charge of the newly created United States Army Forces in the Far East, Fox News Digital noted previously. r
While MacArthur served honorably and faithfully, he was forced to flee the Philippines for his own safety on March 11, 1942.
General Douglas MacArthur seen riding down Broadway, in New York City, during his official welcome to the city, having been relieved of his Asia commands by President Harry Truman. (Keystone/Getty Images)
On June 30, 1942, in Melbourne, MacArthur was presented with the Medal of Honor for “conspicuous leadership in preparing the Philippine Islands to resist conquest, for gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action against invading Japanese forces, and for the heroic conduct of defensive and offensive operations on the Bataan Peninsula,” said the Congressional Medal of Honor Society website.
“He mobilized, trained and led an army, which has received world acclaim for its gallant defense against a tremendous superiority of enemy forces in men and arms,” that website also noted.
“His utter disregard of personal danger under heavy fire and aerial bombardment, his calm judgment in each crisis inspired his troops, galvanized the spirit of resistance of the Filipino people and confirmed the faith of the American people in their Armed Forces,” the citation added.
Republican groups tried “in vain” to obtain MacArthur’s nomination for the presidency.
In 1944, 1948 and 1952, Republican groups tried “in vain” to obtain MacArthur’s nomination for the presidency, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica website.
“MacArthur accepted the board chairmanship of the Remington Rand Corporation in 1952,” that site notes.
Except for duties connected to his role with Remington Rand and “rare public appearances,” MacArthur “lived in seclusion” in New York City.
He died in Washington, D.C., in 1964.
He was buried in Norfolk, Virginia, Encyclopedia Britannica also says.