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Ken Hammontree as General Douglas MacArthur at the 10th Ashland County Veterans Appreciation Day



Duty, Honor, and Country

General Douglas MacArthur

By Kenneth Hammontree


Duty, Honor, and Country: Those three words are inscribed on a large tablet at the U.S. military academy at West Point. The three words that I never forgot as we fought the Japanese and defeated them.


With many of our politicians, educators, and leaders today, who have lost their minds, when it comes to the reason, we have set aside this day we honor our veterans, I believe they all need a quick lesson in American history. Many have lost the real history that created such a great country that we live in, and it is a sad reality we face today, with leaders who ignore or even deny our past.


On a hot and humid Thursday, July 4, 1776, there was in Philadelphia, a Declaration of Independence. This history making Declaration marked the birth of a new nation, which under Almighty God, was destined for world leadership and greatness.

We often forget, that in declaring our independence from an earthly power such as Great Britain, our forefathers also made a forthright Declaration of Dependence upon the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. The closing remarks of this sacred document solemnly proclaims: “With a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.


The fifty-six courageous men who signed this consecrated document, understood that this was not just high-sounding rhetoric. They were aware that if they succeeded in the revolution against Great Britain the best they could hope for as a new Nation would be years of hardships, toil, and challenge from other countries. If they lost the revolution, they would all face the hangman’s noose as traitors. Therefore, it was imperative for them to stand together as one, or they would surely all hang on separate British gallows. They knew that a Nation divided cannot and will not stand. Our freedoms will always be purchased and preserved at this high cost. It has been said, “To be born free is a privilege. To die free is a terrible responsibility.”


The veterans throughout the brief history of the United States of America have always answered the call for the preservation of our liberty, by filling in the gap when needed with indomitable courage, daring honor, and self-sacrifice.


As veterans you answered the midnight call of Paul Revere, Dr. Prescott, and William Dawes on that cold night of April 18, 1775, as the three men rode across the countryside heralding in the revolution for our independence and liberty. As veterans you heard their voices piercing the night air as the messengers traveled from village to village alerting all: “The regulars are coming, to arms, the British Regulars are coming, to arms, to arms.”


You came from every village and borough across the county and as the night alarm spread you gathered by the hundreds at Lexington and Concord, bringing your old flintlocks and muskets loaded with scraps of iron and nails in the absence of lead.


You were there at Lexington Green with your brothers in arms ready to defend liberty, and at sunrise on April 19, 1775, you heard the discharged musket echo the “Shot heard around the world.” Later that same day, you were there fighting at the Concord North Bridge as the British Regular’s began their 18-mile march back to Boston, with you harassing their rear guard all the way.


And the drums were beating…

And the bugle’s sounded…

And your flags snapped in the April breeze…

And you were there…


You were there on June 17, 1775, at Bunker and Breeds Hill. Untrained for war, few in number, and low on gun powder and ammunition, you waited silently for the advance of the British Regulars up those steep hills in that late June afternoon. Then they came in the form of wave, after wave of frontal assaults. The most powerful nation on earth was attempting to remove you off those hills. You fought like wild men with indomitable courage, daring, honor, and purpose. You held out until all ammunition and gun powder were exhausted before retreating to fight another day.


And the drums were beating…

And the bugles sounded…

And your flags waved in the warm June afternoon on those hills…

And you were there…


You were there as General George Washington’s army gathered at McConkey's ferry, ready to embark in those long Durham boats that had been gathered along the raging river. Then cold, wet, and miserable, fighting a strong river current filled with large blocks of ice, you crossed the river with General Washington and were permanently placed in American history.


Finding your gun powder wet and useless, Washington gave the command to continue the nine miles to Trenton in a snowstorm with fixed bayonets. “We will give the enemy cold steel,” he shouted.


There on the morning of December 26, 1776, at 0800 hours you surprised the Hessian troops at Trenton, winning our first major victory of the American Revolution. This victory coupled with the victory at Princeton on January 3, 1777, and became the deciding factor in bringing the French Navy and Army into our Revolution.


And the drums were beating…

And the bugles sounded...

And your flags snapped in the cold winter wind at Princeton and Trenton…

And you were there…


You were there at Valley Forge, during the long bitter cold winter of 1777 and 1778. You could be followed to Valley Forge by the bloody footprints in the snow leading to the winter encampment. Your days spent at Valley Forge were the lowest times in your life as a soldier in the fledgling American army.


Out of the 12,000 of you that entered the winter, only close to 10,000 remained that following spring. However, despite deaths, desertions to the British, sickness, polluted drinking water, and exposure to the elements the little army held together and survived. By the spring the army was an improved, disciplined, and well-trained army, more than when they entered Valley Forge. We were now ready to face the might of the British army.

And the drums were beating…

And the bugle sounded…

And are flags waved in the spring breeze over Valley Forge…

And you were there…


You were there at Yorktown, on October 14, 1781, during the midnight bayonet assault led by Alexander Hamilton overwhelming the British. In-between the flashes of bright orange light from the cannons, you saw the stars and stripes flying over the British ramparts and you knew in your hearts and souls the war had been won and our independence and liberty acquired.


And the drums were beating…

And the bugles were sounding…

And the stars and stripes were snapping in the October air at Yorktown…

And you were there…


You were there in 1812, standing behind the cotton bales at New Orleans in silence, until the command was given to fire. Then, when you could see the whites of the enemy’s eyes, you sent the leaden messengers of death whistling toward the invaders as they were swept from our sacred soil; never to return.

And you were there when the message was rushed to General William Henry Harrison from Commodore Perry, “We have met the enemy, and they our ours…”


And the drums were beating…

And the bugles were sounding…

And the stars and stripes were snapping in the October air over Lake Erie…

And your dead lay scattered over the fields of battle…

And you were there...


You were there when Abraham Lincoln called for seventy-five thousand militia in 1861 to defend the honor and the very survival of the Constitution of the United States of America. Everything our forefathers had fought and died for was now at stake, and you answered Lincoln’s call to arms by the thousands.


You were there outside of Gettysburg Pa., at Little Round Top, on July 2, 1863, with your commanding officer of the 20th Maine, Joshua Chamberlain. As your increasing number of dead lay sprawled around and in-between the rocks and you were down to your last cartridge, you could see through the smoke the enemy rallying for another charge up the hill.


However, just before the enemy advanced, Chamberlain ordered a bayonet charge down the hill and you braced yourself as you heard the chilling words passing through the thin ranks, “Fix Bayonets.” The entire 20th Maine, led by Chamberlain himself, swept down the hill in a mingled roar. The charge caught the enemy off guard, and they stopped their advance, stumbled back running for their lives. And you were standing there in the gap with indomitable courage, having just preserved the entire Union rear flank from total destruction.


And the drums were beating…

And the bugles sounded…

And your flags waved in the hot July evening at Gettysburg…

And you were there...



You were there with General Pershing and Sergeant York, in May of 1918, at Belleau Woods in France, countering a German offensive. You were there with the First Army as they began their offensive in the Argonne Forest that Pershing described as “A vast network of uncut, bare, deep ravines, dense woods, myriads of shell craters, and heavy fog.”

When the fog lifted, the Germans realized their reserves were gone, their regiments weakened and the invasion of their father land imminent, signed the armistice on the eleventh month, of the eleventh day, on the eleventh hour. You held your own and stood in the gap with courage and honor.


And the drums were beating…

And the bugles sounded…

And our flags waved over Flanders field…

And you were there…


You were there during the liberation of North Africa, Italy, Europe, and the Pacific Islands. You were there on the morning of June 6th, 1944, at 0630 hours on the five D-Day beaches at Normandy, taking part in the greatest invasion in world history.


Fighting foot by foot, over the blood-soaked sands and bodies of your fallen messmates, you made your way to the cover of the sea wall. Then fighting mile by mile through the Normandy hedgerows, you fought your way across France at a high cost in lives.

You were there with General Omar Bradley’s First Army as you worked your way out of Normandy beach head and smashed your way to the Rhine River and on to Berlin Germany. And you were with me, General Patton and the Third Army opening the way to Paris. You were with me as our Third Army was turned around at Nancy France, to travel 125 miles North in freezing rain and ice to liberate Bastogne in the Ardennes which was surround by the Waffen SS and asked to surrender.


And the drums were beating…

And the Bugles sounded…

And our flags waved over the town of Bastogne…

And your 18,000 dead lay across the open fields and thick woods in the Ardennes …

And you were there…


And you were there with me, General MacArthur during the Pacific campaigns on land, sea and air. You were there at Okinawa, Fiji, Iwo Jima, Guam, Saipan, Guadalcanal and New Guinea. And you were there when your fellow Marines raised the “Stars and Stripes” on that barren mountain black lava and under fire.


And the drums were beating…

And the bugles sounded…

And the stars and stripes were waving high on that mountain…

And you were there.


And you were there again with me General MacArthur in Korea fighting at Seoul, Inchon, and the 48th parallel.


And you were there with General Westmoreland in the steaming jungles of Vietnam, patrolling the rice paddies and the snake infested swamps filled with danger at every turn. And you were there, fighting the wind and sand of our victorious desert Storm campaign and Iraq.


And the drums were beating…

And the bugles sounded…

And our flags waved high over the hot sands of Iraq and Vietnam…

And you were there…


We will never know the number of men and women who have given their lives since 1776. However, unlike the unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery, know only to God, we have a wall behind us today, that gives us over 58,000 names of our soldiers, who paid the ultimate price. “Valor is a gift,” Carl Sandburg said. “Those having it never know for sure they have it, until the test comes.”


“God and the soldier we adore, in times of trouble not before. The trouble past and all things righted, God is forgotten, and the soldier slighted.”


Ken Hammontree as General Douglas MacArthur at the 10th Ashland County Veterans Appreciation Day Photo Gallery


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