Who said Old soldiers never die they just fade away?

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The quote, "Old soldiers never die; they just fade away" was part of General Douglas MacArthur's farewell address to a joint session of Congress on April 19, 1951, after President Truman fired him for ignoring orders about threatening China. The sentimental quote belies the seriousness of MacArthur's warning about and insight into the dangers of post-World War II Asia, particularly the Korean War and eventual "military action" in Vietnam.

[Another contributor adds: "According to General of the Army (5 star) Douglas McArthur, the line came from an old Barracks Ballad sung during his young cadet tenure at West Point (Military Academy). He mentioned the ballad during his final address to the Corps of Cadets on his final departure from the Army I believe somewhere around 1962."]

The full quote from the end of his address was:

"I am closing my 52 years of military service. When I joined the Army, even before the turn of the century, it was the fulfillment of all of my boyish hopes and dreams. The world has turned over many times since I took the oath on the plain at West Point, and the hopes and dreams have long since vanished, but I still remember the refrain of one of the most popular barrack ballads of that day which proclaimed most proudly that "old soldiers never die; they just fade away."

"And like the old soldier of that ballad, I now close my military career and just fade away, an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty.

"Good Bye."


You can read and view MacArthur's address at American Rhetoric: Top 100 Speeches, available via Related Links. For more information, also see Related Questions, below.
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