Friday, December 4, 2009

Hey Wait! I've heard that before!

I subscribe to a podcast of famous speeches, and today was listening to General MacArthur's "Duty, Honor, Country" speech given at Westpoint in 1962. Transcript here.

Man, it's awesome. The guy spoke with some serious gravitas. memory's eye I could see those staggering columns of the First World War, bending under soggy packs, on many a weary march from dripping dusk to drizzling dawn, slogging ankle-deep through the mire of shell-shocked roads, to form grimly for the attack, blue-lipped, covered with sludge and mud, chilled by the wind and rain, driving home to their objective, and for many, to the judgment seat of God.
To the judgement seat of God. Wow.

Worth reading AND listening to.

I might be the last person to realize this (I am Canadian after all, and most of my history has to do with the catholic church, maple syrup and trapping beavers) but it was pretty apparent that the speech was the inspiration for the famous Nicholson speech from A Few Good Men courtroom scene. Shortened Hollywood style, of course:

We use words like "honor," "code," "loyalty." We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punch line.

Duty, Honor, Country: Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying points: to build courage when courage seems to fail; to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith; to create hope when hope becomes forlorn.

Unhappily, I possess neither that eloquence of diction, that poetry of imagination, nor that brilliance of metaphor to tell you all that they mean.

The unbelievers will say they are but words, but a slogan, but a flamboyant phrase. Every pedant, every demagogue, every cynic, every hypocrite, every troublemaker, and I am sorry to say, some others of an entirely different character, will try to downgrade them even to the extent of mockery and ridicule.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised of the source of inspiration, but I thought it was interesting.

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