General Douglas MacArthur’s Credo

MacArthur Museum


General Douglas MacArthur was a controversial military figure.

I have looked at some of the accounts of his long military career and I can’t form an intelligent opinion as to his triumphs and his blunders as described by his biographers.

All agree, however, that he was an important part of our history in the first half of the 20th century.



This post looks at a kinder and gentler side of the man.

MacArthur had a poem framed and it hung on the wall behind his desk in Tokyo  while he oversaw the post war recovery of Japan.

He also recited the poem in several speeches given after his retirement from the military.

At first, I thought MacArthur himself was the author but in doing my research I found it was written by Samuel Ullman.

Ullman was a business man, educator, humanitarian and in his retirement years he became a poet.

His poem titled “Youth” is the one that inspired MacArthur and his use of it caused Samuel Ullman to get his geatest exposure and recognition.

You can find more about Samuel Ullman at this link.

Samuel Ullman

General MacArthur referenced the poem so often it became known as MacArthur’s Credo.

Here it is.


General MacArthur Credo


“Youth is not entirely a time of life – it is a state of mind. It is not wholly a matter of ripe cheeks, red lips or supple knees. It is a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions, a freshness of the deep springs of life. It means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, of an appetite for adventure over love of ease.

Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old only by deserting their ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkles the soul. 

Worry, doubt, self-distrust, fear and despair – these are the long, long years that bow the head and turn the growing spirit back to dust. Whatever your years, there is in every being’s heart the love of wonder, the undaunted challenge of events, the unfailing child-like appetite for what next, and the joy in the game of life. 

You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair.

In the central place of every heart there is a recording chamber; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer and courage, so long are you young.  When the wires are all down and your heart is covered with the moss of pessimism and the ice of cynicism, then, and then only, are you grown old. “


What This Credo Means to Me


The last paragraph of the poem expresses my motivation for finding positive, uplifting stories of faith and family or other examples of inspirational acts of kindness and compassion.

These stories help to encourage me and keep me thinking “young” and forward looking.

I hope they do the same for you.

Douglas MacArthur faced depressing and frustrating military decision making daily.

He literally held the lives of hundreds of thousands of human beings – maybe many more than that, in the power of his mind as he faced his responsibilities.

He needed something to remind him how wide is the gulf between optimism and pessimism and how severe are the consequences of living as a pessimist.

That’s what struck me as I read this poem.

How does it strike you?




If you like this post and you’re on social media you can share it by using the Share Buttons below or by emailing the link to my blog at:

Your friends will be glad you did.

You’ll be glad you did and so will I.

PS If you like the blog you can submit your email in the upper right corner of the page to receive notifications of new posts.

And last but not least, please leave a Comment below.

Your feedback is valuable and its easy.


Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Leave a Comment:

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This