Douglas McArthur

(Deb) Hey, I’m Deb Bisel, coming to you today from the Fox Lofts in downtown Topeka, just over the Celtic Fox. And we want to thank Mike Fox for making this space available to us today. Beautiful historic building that they’re restored and the Celtic Fox, the restaurant is downstairs. This upstairs was the original Washburn Law School back in the day, about 100 or so years ago. And again, once more beautiful, usable space. I want to talk to you for a couple of minutes about Douglas MacArthur, one of only five, five-star generals in American history. Now few names loom larger than that of Douglas MacArthur in world history. Best known of course, for his command of the Allied Forces in the South Pacific in World War II and famously fired by Harry Truman during the Korean War, when he basically refused to follow orders. You know Truman decided to show him who was boss. He was born in 1880 in Little Rock, Arkansas. His Dad, Arthur MacArthur, was an Army officer and he was actually a Union veteran and he was serving in the west when young Douglas was born. And his Mother was determined that Douglas would be born in Virginia. So she gets on a train, heads back to Virginia where she’s from and her brothers, by the way, served in the Confederate Army so what an interesting household that must have been, she only makes it as far as Little Rock. So Douglas MacArthur is born in Little Rock, Arkansas, on an Army base there and his Mother lied about that from time to time. Now he was destined, with that kind of background, how could he be anything other than an Army man. In 1906, he graduated from the Engineer School of Application at Washington Barracks and he briefly served as an Aide to Camp to President Theodore Roosevelt. Next he had charge of river and harbor improvements along Lake Michigan. From 1908 to 1912, the young officer taught in the Army Service School and was stationed at Fort Leavenworth. He served with the Third Battalion of Engineers there. Now while at Fort Leavenworth he actually lived in the Rookery, which of course is the oldest building in Kansas, along with his Mama. This incredible world leader was a real Mama’s boy. And while he lived on one floor of the Rookery, Mama lived on another floor of the Rookery. And how Douglas got by with shenanigans with his Mama around I don’t know. But he did manage to have a little bit of a bachelor’s life while he was there at Fort Leavenworth. Now his Dad, really interesting man, Arthur MacArthur was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. So was Douglas. In fact they are the first Father and Son duo to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. So, the MacArthurs, what an incredible family and what an incredible Kansas connection. You know in the new Command and General Staff College there at Fort Leavenworth in Lewis and Clark Hall, as you go into the entrance there to the right is the MacArthur room. And there is this magnificent full length portrait of MacArthur hanging over the desk. One of my best memories the last time I saw the late John McWethy who was an ABC journalist, we were doing a project together, media training at Fort Leavenworth and I walk into the office to meet with him and there he is typing away on his computer with MacArthur looming over him and I just had to laugh. And he said, “Yes, it’s pretty daunting to have that big guy looking over your shoulder.” Let me know and we’ll take you up and see it some time. We’ll be right back.

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