by sherry mann
On this date (May 12) in 1962, Douglas MacArthur delivered his famous “Duty, Honor, Country” valedictory speech at the United States Military Academy. The original speech may be read here, but I have made small changes so that it might be a more fitting address from the shores of the Gulf of Mexico to a dying America 48 years later.
President Obama, British Petroleum officials, shareholders, and servicemen of the United Corporations of America. As I was leaving the hotel this morning, a doorman asked me, “Where are you bound for, General?” and when I replied, “The Gulf of Mexico,” he replied, “Beautiful place. Have you ever been there before? If so, you won’t recognize it today.”
No human being could fail to be deeply moved by such a setting as this, coming from a profession I have served so long and people I have loved so well. It fills me with an emotion I cannot express. But as look at these shores today–awash will the oil we have sacrificed so much for–this fitting reward symbolizes the moral code–the code of conduct of those like me who have served the US–the “defensive” arm of fine companies like Shell, Unocal and BP, we wore our uniforms proudly as we fought and often died for this “American way of life“.
What is the meaning of this medallion. For all eyes and for all time, it is an expression of the ethics of the American soldier. That I should be integrated with so feeble an ideal–yet somehow triumphant in its purpose as we can see, smell and feel here, arouses a sense of humility which will be with me always.
“Duty,” “Honor,” “Country”–those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, yet as an American soldier or oil consumer–what you will never be. They are your rallying points to build rhetoric when facts fail, to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for it, and to create hope even when it is based on chains we can believe in.
Unhappily, I possess neither that eloquence of diction, that poetry of imagination, nor that brilliance of metaphor to tell you all that they mean. But what proof do we need other than the black gold oozing from these once pure white shores. This is the poetry of blackwash…excuse me, backlash, that we have all worked so hard to achieve.
The terrorists will say “Duty, Honor and Country” are only words, a slogan, or a flamboyant phrase. Every Earth Day celebration, every greenpeacer, every solar panel user–both of them, [laughter], every electric car driver and every hypocrite with a yellow ribbon magnet on their hummer or SUV, will try to downgrade our efforts even to the extent of mockery and ridicule.
But these are some of the things “Duty Honor and Country” do. They build your basic character on a slippery slope of crude. They mold you–making you rotten to the core for your future roles as the “custodians of our nation’s shores”. They will make you weak enough to say “yes sir!”, and meek enough to never begin to ask the tough questions…for our national blood for oil industry will never teach you who your duty serves, what your honor means or why your Country sends you off to risk your life and limb.
“Duty Honor and Country” will teach you to be proud and unbending in even the most cataclysmic failures; to boldly substitute words for action; to seek the path of comfort rather than to face the stress and spur of difficulty and challenge; to stand up in any storm and do everything you can to shout, “bring it on!”; to master others before you master yourself; to have a heart that is cold and profits that are high; to learn to laugh at the facts and the law; to reach into the future of your children– without ever neglecting the needs of the shareholders; to be serious– yet never take any warnings too seriously; to be generous to the lawmakers so that you will own everything and anyone who could ever challenge the great profits of the corporation.
Controlling how “Duty, Honor and Country” are portrayed in the mainstream media helps fortify your determined will, a quality of imagination, a vigor of the deep pockets of the friends you buy, a predominance of impetuousness over timidity, and an appetite for adventure over any old fashioned love of earth. They create in your heart the sense of omnipotence, the unfailing confidence that no matter how many millions of lives you destroy, those very people will come to give you money at your pumps and will actually pay for cleaning up whatever they might accuse you of “destroying”.
And what sort of Americans are those we are to bleed at the “service stations” and in our “service”? Are they reliable? Are they brave? Are they capable of standing up to our slick oil rigged deeds?
Their story is known to all of you. It is the story of the average American. My estimate of him was formed in the streets of Dallas, in Dealy Plaza many, many years ago, and has never changed. I regarded him then, as I regard him now, as one of the world’s most credulous figures; with not only the most manipulable of characters, but also one of the most brainless.
America’s name and fame are the birthright of every American citizen. In America’s youth and strength, the love and loyalty for all America used to be, was created by patriots of long ago who gave all that mortality can give. That America needs no eulogy from me, nor from any other man for we have redefined all that she ever stood for–rewritten the creed of America’s soul in red on our bloodsoaked enemy’s breast, written it in green in the bailouts of Wall Street, and written it in black on the shores of our coasts, the taxcode for average American saps and the smog and chemtrails of our citites.
But when I think of the average GI Joe’s patience under all the adversity we have dumped upon him, of his faith in the system we have created, and of his generosity toward our bottom lines, I am filled with an emotion I cannot put into words–I can neither confirm nor deny that Senator! [laughter]. He belongs to history as one of the greatest examples of successful patriotism that funds our shareholders’ way of life. He belongs to posterity as the instructor of future generations in the principles of the consumerist lifestyle that makes the American dream possible for all of …US. [laughter] He belongs to to us–by the virtues of his gullibility and by his achievements in his naiveté. [More laughter].
While we attended a few hundred shareholder meetings and at least one or two cocktail parties, these Americans have always been there to clean up the one or two little spills that were inevitable considering all the fun that we had. I have witnessed the fruits of their enduring fortitude, that patriotic self-abnegation, and that invincible determination which have left their mark on this country from as far north as Port Valdez to as far south as here at the Golf of Mexico..
From one end of the world to the other, American servicemen have helped us drain deep the black wells–which are the source of his faith and courage. As we just heard our Marine’s Hymn, with words like “We have fought in every clime and place where we could take a gun;” with 737 military bases scattered around the world, it goes without saying that that is no exaggeration. The American soldier who fights for our “way of life” under soggy packs on many a weary march, from dripping dusk to drizzling dawn, slogging ankle deep through mire of mine fields and IED roads; to form grimly for the attack, blue-lipped, covered with sludge, mud, and oil from Kuwait to Afghanistan, and Pakistan to Iraq in order to preserve our pipelines, would feel right at home if he were able to be here now.
We have all heard about the dignity of America’s birth, but I do not view any shame in her sons’ and daughters’ deaths. They died unquestioning, uncomplaining, with faith in their hearts, and on their lips the hope that we would go on to victory. Always for them: “Duty, Honor, Country”. Always their blood, their sweat, their tears, their children and their money, as they went the way that we ordered them to go through the flickering light of their television screens from our dear friends at FOX news and the other stations who dutifully followed their corporate American scripts. This allowed us all to carry our our various roles in this great national production in the last country which believes the make believe of the ‘Great American Dream’ fairy tale. How fortunate we have been to have such obedient and loyal subjects.
And after countless stop-losses on the other side of the globe where yet more oil is being secured, against the filth of dirty foxholes, the stench of ghostly trenches, the slime of blood soaked streets, those boiling suns of the relentless heat, those torrential sands of devastating storms, the loneliness and utter desolation of mountain trails, the bitterness of long separation of those they loved and cherished, the deadly pestilence of chemical, biological and depleted uranium diseases, and the horrors of stricken areas of war, their resolute and determined offense, their shock and awe attacks, their indomitable purpose, their complete and decisive devastation of entire countries- they declare “victory” over friends and foe alike through the bloody haze of their last reverberating shot, the vision of gaunt, ghastly men and women, reverently follow our passwords of “Duty, Honor, Country.”
Those code words which perpetuate our story, embrace the amoral laws which serve us best, and will stand the test of any ethics or philosophies ever promulgated for the uplift of mankind. Its requirements are for the things that are right for oil–no matter what country it may be found, and free from any restraint from the things that are “wrong”. The serviceman, above all other men, is required to practice the greatest act of religious training–sacrifice. In battle and in the face of danger and death, he discloses those divine attributes which his Maker of Oil gave when we created servicemen for His own image. No physical courage and no brute instinct can take the place of Divine Oil the help which alone can sustain him. However horrible the incidents of war may be, the soldier who is called upon to offer and to give his life for his country’s need for oil, is the noblest development of the kind of man we have created.
We now face a new world, a world of change. The thrust into outer space of Star Wars, depleted uranium missiles and drones mark the beginning of another epoch in the long story of mankind–the chapter of the nuclear space age. In the five or more billions of years the scientists tell us it has taken to form the earth, in the three or more billion years of development of the human race, there has never been a greater, a more abrupt or staggering devolution. We deal now not with things of this world alone, but with the illimitable distances and as yet unfathomed mysteries of the universe which we can make blacker still. We are reaching out for a new and boundless frontier. We speak in strange terms: of creating unheard synthetic materials to supplement or even replace our old standard basics; of controlling the weather for a more equitable distribution of heat and cold, of rain and shine; of the primary target in war, no longer limited to the armed forces of an enemy, but instead to include his civil populations; of such dreams and fantasies as to make all that might otherwise sustain life–we can now devastate all of this–the most exciting challenge of all time…and the good news is, we are well on our way.
And through all this welter of change and development the serviceman’s mission remains fixed, determined, inviolable. It is to win our wars for terror, for drugs and for oil. Everything else in your professional career is but corollary to these vital dedications. All other public purpose, all other public projects, all other public needs, great or small, will find others for their accomplishments; but you are the ones who are trained to fight for the directives we will give you.
Yours is the profession of arms, the will to win, the sure knowledge that in war there is no substitute for obedience, but win or lose, the Nation will be destroyed, and that the obsession of your public service must be “Duty, Honor, Country” as we have instructed.
Others will debate the controversial issues, national and international, which divide men’s minds. But serene, calm, aloof, you stand as the Nation’s war guardians, as its lifeguards from the raging tides of international conflict, as its gladiators in the arena of battle. For a century and a half you have offended and defected its hallowed traditions of liberty and freedom, of right and justice.
Let civilian voices 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 firm and complete as they should be.
These great national problems are not for your participation or solution. Your guidepost stands out like a tenfold beacon in the night: “Duty, Honor, Country.”
Your country’s love of shopping and cars are the leaven which binds together the entire fabric of our national system. From your flanks come more servants who hold the Nation’s destiny in their hands the moment the war tocsin sounds.
This does not mean that you are warmongers. Even the soldier above all other people prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war. But always in our ears ring the ominous words of Plato, that wisest of all philosophers: “Only the dead have seen the end of war” for as we have said, this war on terra will last for 100 years–maybe longer if we are so fortunate.
The shadows are lengthening for me. The twilight is here. My days of old have vanished – tone and tints. They have gone glimmering through the dreams of things that were. Their memory is one of wondrous beauty, watered by tears and coaxed and caressed by the smiles of yesterday. I listen then, but with thirsty ear, for the witching melody of faint bugles blowing reveille, of far drums beating the long roll.
In my dreams I hear again the crash of guns, the rattle of musketry, the strange, mournful mutter of the battlefield. But in the evening of my memory I will come back to these black shores where all we have faught for has finally come home. And it was all possible through the echoes and re-echoes of “Duty, Honor, Country”.
Today marks my final roll call with you. But I want you to know that when I cross the river, my last conscious thoughts will be of the Corporation, for the Corporation, and buy the Corporation.
I bid you farewell.