Recently, Arthur Herman, the author of "Douglas MacArthur: American Warrior," wrote an article in the "Nikkei Asian Review" entitled "The Father of Modern Asia." Quite accurately, he portrays General MacArthur as the man who not only shaped modern east Asia but had the foresight of where it was heading many years before. As your author has lived and worked in most of the countries in this region, it was as if a light bulb went off. Douglas MacArthur began his Asian experience by joining his father, General MacArthur, a Civil War hero on an official tour of Asia in 1905/1906. His father had long asserted, as early as 1882, that the U.S. had to maintain a strong position in the Pacific region.
General MacArthur, the son, was known for his corncob pipe as shown below.
The young Douglas MacArthur was born on an Army base in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1880, moved to San Antonio, Texas, attended West Texas Military Academy and later graduated with honors from the United States Military at West Point. He served with distinction in World War I, became the superintendent of West Point in the early 1920's and then held various military posts becoming the Army chief of staff in 1930. In 1931, President Franklin D. Roosevelt placed MacArthur in the position of military advisor to the Philippines which began his long and distinguished period of Asian service. In July 1941, MacArthur was recalled to active duty and became commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific. A Japanese invasion of the Philippines drove MacArthur's forces from the country. However, MacArthur vowed "I shall return" which he did as evidenced below. Wading ashore may have been a bit of a photo op though the pipe in his right hand is concealed.
In 1945, at the end of the War, President Harry S. Truman appointed MacArthur supreme Allied commander. He was placed in charge of the formal surrender of Japan and remained there for the next five years to command the occupation forces. He is shown below accepting the formal surrender by the Japanese.
General MacArthur was adamant in his views that Emperor Hirohito was essential to the future of Japan. The Japan that we know today reflects much of MacArthur's influence in the structure of its constitution, the evolution of its democracy and economic prosperity. MacArthur is shown below with Emperor Hirohito in what must have been an uncomfortable photograph for both of them.
When the North Korean army invaded South Korea in 1950, MacArthur was placed in command of the newly created United Nations forces and quickly drove back the attack. The Chinese then launched human wave attacks that forced the UN forces to retreat. MacArthur was clear in his views and quite vocal that the war be expanded to include China and that nuclear weapons should be considered. Although Truman warned him to keep his views to himself, ultimately Truman felt he had no choice but to relieve him of his command in April, 1951. Shortly thereafter General MacArthur began a parade tour of the United States which in all likelihood was a test of his popularity and suitability for a republican presidential run.
It was at this point in time in Jackson, Mississippi where the author lived that the Cub Scout pack was called to join the parade route and stand at attention to honor General MacArthur.
Now, those of you who know the author may wonder how the cherubic dork on the left became the fearless guy he is today. We can thank the streets of Juarez and Laredo in the "black and white days" followed by the asphalt and bamboo jungles of Thailand and Laos some years later. The Boy Scouts were again summoned several years later and this time, as an Eagle Scout in a proper uniform, the author stood at attention as President Eisenhower drove by. What is it about the military that calls upon the scouts when there is a high level figure in a parade? Could it be they already see the Boy Scouts as a source of future soldiers? Between the two Generals witnessed by the author, MacArthur with his corn cob pipe and aviator glasses was "The Man."
When we think of the most influential of modern Asian leaders, few would immediately think of an American general but that is clearly the case. Whereas, MacArthur was going down the wrong road considering nuclear weapons against China, he was clear in his vision of a modern China as evidenced by the current unease in the South China Sea. Moreover, the Chinese economic prowess has strengthened their capacity to fund an ever increasing military strength. Another favorite MacArthur saying was "Old soldiers never die, they just fade away." A post script to that saying is his footprint on modern East Asia will never fade.
Reminiscent of the God's Eye art you made in Scouts or grade school art class, this God's Eye art is made into intricate mobiles in the traditional colors of the Hmong Hill Tribes in Thailand.