YWAM Publishing's Heroes of History is a favorite biography source for us. About 18 months ago, Douglas MacArthur: What Greater Honor along with a copy of the accompanying Unit Study Curriculum Guide. Luke reviewed their edition on George Washington, and we were hooked. Since then, we've purchased a half dozen of them for his US History course, and they've become beloved by every big kid in the house. (In fact, Clara Barton got "misplaced" a few times...and was found in Celia's room -- she had absconded with it and fallen asleep reading it.) When given the opportunity to review another of YWAM Publishing's titles, Luke was just working his way through the Great Depression and on the eve of American involvement World War II. This meant he had a fairly easy choice: who else but Douglas MacArthur? We chose to review Douglas MacArthur: What Greater Honor and its accompanying Unit Study program.
I have to admit, I knew very little about MacArthur beyond his infamous line, "I shall return," and honestly, I wasn't even sure what it was about, other than something he said during World War II. Most of what I studied about WWII was centered around the European theater; it wasn't until we visited the National World War II museum this summer that I understood the magnitude of the fight in the Pacific. After a rout by the Japanese, MacArthur had been forced to flee the Philippines; it took him three long years to methodically, island-by-island, fight his way back to the Philippines and free them from Japanese control. Yet even after these crash yet intensive lessons about the Pacific side of the war, we still didn't know the answer to "Who was the man behind this ferocious vow?"
MacArthur's tale begins on the PT Boat as the newly appointed Pacific commander and his family are being whisked to safety in Australia. Though if he had his way he'd be fighting alongside his enlisted men, he recognized his country needed him to leave the tiny island of Corregidor in order to orchestrate the liberation of the entire Pacific. We learned how MacArthur began his military career with honor, deftly handling both incidences of brutal hazing and an inquiry into the practice at West Point, ultimately graduating first in his class. Through his idea of the "Rainbow Division," gave the entire nation both the responsibility and the honor of defending the United States when it entered WWI. As for the Philippines, his father Arthur MacArthur, also a career military man, had helped liberate the islands during the Spanish-American war. After graduation, the younger MacArthur was assigned to the Philippines as an engineer, and later re-assigned to be an aide-de-camp for his father. Together the two toured the Pacific, and this was when Douglas became endeared to the region. He was happy to be returned there after his war-era service on the US mainland, continuing the task of helping the Filipino people achieve independence; this time, he was help their army establish itself, one of the final steps to becoming independent nation and shedding its "US Territory" status. After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, they turned their sights on the American army in the Philippines. It was no longer a fight between nations; it was a personal attack.
|General MacArthur surveys the beach at Leyte shore|
just after the American forces sweep ashore
National Archives and Records Admin
(US public domain)
His commitment to fairness and freedom made him the ideal candidate to become the Supreme Commander of Japan after the imperialist surrender, leading the American-led postwar rebuilding of a nation decimated by years of fighting and two atomic bombs. Yet, he was a humble man, buried in his everyday uniform, with none of the many medals he had earned pinned to his chest.
Before we even began the Unit Study, Luke and I found ourselves wondering why do we know so little about this man? Is it because he refused to play Truman's brand of politics during the Korean War? Was it was that he was eclipsed by the younger Eisenhower - the commander of the European theater - in the 1952 Presidential nomination? These questions left us clamoring for more - and grateful for the Unit Study. By including things such as essay prompts, activities that helped us learn more about MacArthur and his character, and additional reading resources, it helped us find the true story of the man, often reduced to an often-misfocused catchphrase, who should be celebrated for his contribution to freedom. Though ultimately not called to do so, he was prepared to give his life in the fight to free his friends. Scripture tells us there is no greater love than to do so. Despite the accolades and rewards for his work, he found there to be no greater honor than being a simple soldier fighting for freedom.
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