by Gen. Jerry Curry (Ret.)
Clash Daily Guest Contributor
The other day I read an amazing, true story of a German WWII fighter pilot who refused to shoot down a crippled American B-17 that was struggling to get back to England with only one of its four engines still working. He was a new fighter pilot and before takeoff his commander had told him, “Honor is everything here … You follow the rules of war for you – not for your enemy.” The story sent me scrambling back through my files searching for a copy of General Douglas MacArthur’s 1962 Thayer Award Speech – “Duty, Honor, Country” – the one he gave to the cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.
Would that our leaders today understood the meaning of the word honor as well as MacArthur and that German fighter pilot did way back then. Now we have a President who is doing his best to racially and economically divide, cripple, and destroy our great nation. We have, as leader of the Senate, a man who would have shot down the crippled B-17 without the slightest qualm or hesitation. And as the leader of the House of Representatives we have a man who seems to have great difficulty in standing up to the dishonest and distasteful political machinations of the President and the Senate.
General MacArthur laid out for the cadets at West Point that day America’s ethically acceptable blueprint of honor and reinforced, within the cadets’ minds, the military’s acceptable code of conduct. That blueprint that MacArthur sketched out for them applies equally today. He explained it this way, “Be proud and unbending in honest failure, but humble and gentle in success; not to substitute words for actions … to be serious, yet never to take yourself too seriously; to be modest so that you will remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength.”
Our leaders in Washington need to be reminded that in addition to solving debt and revenue problems, their mission is to provide moral guidance and leadership for the nation and for the nation’s youth. As MacArthur would say, theirs is the profession of leadership, the will to problem solve at the highest levels, that there can be no substitute for the nation’s living, working and spending within its means. That if the White House and the Congress continue to insist in prolonged overspending, the Nation will eventually be destroyed.
MacArthur’s words then are just as applicable now, “Argue the merits or demerits of our processes of government: Whether our strength is being sapped by deficit financing indulged in too long, by Federal paternalism grown too mighty, by power groups grown too arrogant, by politics grown too corrupt, by crime grown too rampant, by morals grown too low, by taxes grown too high, by extremists grown too violent; whether our personal liberties are as thorough and complete as they should be.”
Yes, we the American people must take much more seriously the role we are to play in this great democratic republic, and vote into office only honorable men and women who believe and understand that they hold the Nation’s destiny in their hands and that they must discharge their leadership duties and responsibilities honestly, faithfully and without failure.
They should not just be patrons of a welfare state who have been bought by political parties grown too powerful, by labor unions which have grown too violent, or by large corporations who pay no taxes because they financially support the ruling political partly.
When the time comes for the President and the leaders of Congress to retire from the field of political and governmental battle, let them be able to face those who voted them into office and say that they have nothing to be ashamed of, that they have discharged their Presidential and Congressional duties with honor and distinction, that they have — with dignity and honesty — stood up for those who could not stand up for themselves; that to the best of their ability they have represented the interests of those who voted them into office; that they have cared for the genuinely disadvantaged and for the widow and orphan.
And let not “We The People” just stand by impotently while political crooks and charlatans manipulate our system of government to their own advantage. Let us show that we are grateful for this great nation God has given us by seeking to live honorable lives.
Image: “General Douglas MacArthur”; current location: National Archives and Records Administration, College Park; public domain
General Jerry Ralph Curry (Ret.)is a decorated combat veteran, Army Aviator, Paratrooper, Ranger and retired Army Major General. For nearly forty years he has served his country both in the military and as a Presidential political appointee, including for the Carter, Reagan & Bush 41 administrations.