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50 Douglas MacArthur Quotes from the American General

Douglas MacArthur quotes and strong words from one of America’s greatest military commanders.

Douglas MacArthur grew up as a child with a father who was an officer in the Army. They lived on the western frontier where he shares that he was riding and shooting even before he had learned to walk or talk. While, obviously, that statement isn’t true, it speaks to the type of upbringing that he had.

He ended up graduating from West Point and serving during World War I and World War II. Between the two wars, he led an armed force in the Philippines and served some time as a civilian advisor as well before being called to serve in WWII.

MacArthur was a strong and wise leader who was well recognized for his work. He was also a no-nonsense person as you’ll see in his quotes.

50 Douglas MacArthur Quotes from the American General

Don’t forget to also check out these general James Mattis quotes about leadership and the military.

Famous Douglas MacArthur quotes about courage and wisdom

1. “Life is a lively process of becoming.” – Douglas MacArthur

2. “Age wrinkles the body; quitting wrinkles the soul.” – Douglas MacArthur

3. “There is no security on this earth; there is only opportunity.” – Douglas MacArthur

4. “I had learned one of the bitter lessons of life: never try to regain the past, the fire will have become ashes.” – Douglas MacArthur

5. “Last, but by no means least, courage of one’s convictions, the courage to see things through.” – Douglas MacArthur

6. “I realize that advice is worth what it costs–that is, nothing.” – Douglas MacArthur

7. “Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid, one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.” – Douglas MacArthur

8. “The best luck of all is the luck you make for yourself.” – Douglas MacArthur

9. “A better world shall emerge based on faith and understanding.” – Douglas MacArthur

General MacArthur quotes about peace and war

10. “Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons.” – Douglas MacArthur

11. “It is fatal to enter an war without the will to win it.” – Douglas MacArthur

12. “Give me ten thousand Filipino soldiers and I will conquer the world.” – Douglas MacArthur

13. “We are not retreating – we are advancing in another direction.” – Douglas MacArthur

14. “Once war is forced upon us, there is no alternative than to apply every available means to bring it to a swift end. War’s very object is victory-not prolonged indecision.” – Douglas MacArthur

15. “You don’t win wars by dying for your country you win wars by making the other son of a bitch die for his.” – Douglas MacArthur

16. “These disasters seem never to have happened, seem never to have been quite real.” – Douglas MacArthur

17. “Today the guns are silent. A great tragedy has ended. A great victory has been won…” – Douglas MacArthur

18. “The destructiveness of the war potential, through progressive advances in scientific discovery, has in fact now reached a point which revises the traditional concepts of war.” – Douglas MacArthur

19. “Men since the beginning of time have sought peace.” – Douglas MacArthur

20. “People of the Philippines: I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God, our forces stand again on Philippine soil—soil consecrated in the blood of our two peoples.” – Douglas MacArthur

21. “In war, defensive strategy never has produced ultimate victory.” – Douglas MacArthur

22. “The history of the failure of war can almost be summed up in two words: too late.” – Douglas MacArthur

23. “In war, you win or lose, live or die – and the difference is just an eyelash.” – Douglas MacArthur

Douglas MacArthur quotes and sayings about choices and consequences

24. “You are remembered for the rules you break.” – Douglas MacArthur

25. “I shall return.” – Douglas MacArthur

26. “On the fields of friendly strife are sown the seeds that on other days, on other fields will bear the fruits of victory.” – Douglas MacArthur

27. “Rules are mostly made to be broken and are too often for the lazy to hide behind.” – Douglas MacArthur

28. “If we do not now devise some greater and more equitable system, Armageddon will be at our door.” – Douglas MacArthur

29. “Never give an order that can’t be obeyed.” – Douglas MacArthur

30. “I’ve looked that old scoundrel death in the eye many times but this time I think he has me on the ropes.” – Douglas MacArthur

Douglas MacArthur quotes about career and duty

31. “The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.” – Douglas MacArthur

32. “Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.” – Douglas MacArthur

33. “A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.” – Douglas MacArthur

34. “This does not mean that you are warmongers. On the contrary, the soldier above all other people prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.” – Douglas MacArthur

35. “We have come dedicated and committed to the task of destroying every vestige of enemy control over your daily lives, and of restoring upon a foundation of indestructible strength, the liberties of your people.”- Douglas MacArthur

36. “And like the old soldier in 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 sight to see that duty.” – Douglas MacArthur

37. “Duty, Honor, Country. Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be.” – Douglas MacArthur

38. “A general is just as good or just as bad as the troops under his command make him.” – Douglas MacArthur

39. “I suppose, in a way, this has become part of my soul. It is a symbol of my life. Whatever I have done that really matters, I’ve done wearing it. When the time comes, it will be in this that I journey forth. What greater honor could come to an American, and a soldier?” – Douglas MacArthur

Douglas MacArthur quotes about politics and society

40. “I am concerned for the security of our great Nation; not so much because of any treat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within.” – Douglas MacArthur

41. “The enemy is in front of us, the enemy is behind us, the enemy is to the right and to the left of us. They can’t get away this time!” – Douglas MacArthur

42. “The world is in a constant conspiracy against the brave. It’s the age-old struggle, the roar of the crowd on one side and the voice of your conscience on the other.” – Douglas MacArthur

43. “Americans never quit.” – Douglas MacArthur

44. “Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear, kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor, with the cry of grave national emergency.” – Douglas MacArthur

45. “Even the lesson of victory itself brings with it profound concern, both for our future security and the survival of civilization.” – Douglas MacArthur

46. “Military alliances, balances of power, leagues of nations, all, in turn, have failed, leaving the only path to be by way of the crucible of war.” – Douglas MacArthur

47. “The problem basically is theological and involves a spiritual recrudescence and improvement of human character that will synchronize with our matchless advances in science, art, literature and all material and cultural developments of the past two thousand years. It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh.” – Douglas MacArthur

48. “Part of the American dream is to live long and die young. Only those Americans who are willing to die for their country are fit to live.” – Douglas MacArthur

49. “One cannot wage war under present conditions without the support of public opinion, which is tremendously molded by the press and other forms of propaganda.” – Douglas MacArthur

50. “Our country is now geared to an arms economy bred in an artificially induced psychosis of war hysteria and an incessant propaganda of fear.” – Douglas MacArthur

What did you learn from these Douglas MacArthur quotes?

General Douglas MacArthur’s drive to succeed caused problems for him in the form of a disagreement about how to handle the Korean War. MacArthur wanted to fight back by attacking the People’s Republic of China who was working to help North Korea; however, President Truman did not agree. This led to the removal of MacArthur from his command.

General MacArthur was eventually welcomed back to America from his command with parades throughout various cities. While the end of his service may not have come like you would have expected, there’s no denying the importance of his role in the military throughout his service.

What’s your biggest takeaway from these Douglas MacArthur quotes and sayings? Do you have any other favorite quotes to add? Let us know in the comment section below.

Stephanie Kirby
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  1. Jack Fry

    October 15, 2021 at 2:49 PM

    He also said America will never be conquered by foreign troops but from within. Paraphrasing.

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