I was able to visit the General Douglas MacArthur Memorial this month in Norfolk, Virginia. General MacArthur is not only an important historical figure in American history, but also in Philippine history. In short, he’s the first American to actually acknowledge Filipinos as an important group of people rather than uneducated savage little brown people. Filipinos should never forget how much General MacArthur has done for the Philippines and all his efforts to liberate the nation from Japanese occupation during World War II. Also, by visiting this memorial, many people will come to realize that Philippines and Filipinos play an important role in US history. This is something that US history text books often fail to cover or address when I was student. For these reasons, I was very grateful for the opportunity to visit his memorial in downtown Norfolk. I left with a sense of pride as both a Filipino and an American after hearing General MacArthur’s famous quote,“Duty, Honor, Country.”
MacArthur Square is located in downtown Norfolk, the site of the four buildings which comprise the MacArthur Memorial. First on my list was the Memorial’s theater, which contains several exhibit galleries including the Philippine mahogany relief, The Liberation and Rebirth of a Republic. The theater continuously shows a twenty-four minute film on the life and times of General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, one of the most highly decorated soldiers in American history. A library and archives house the General’s five thousand books and over two million items of correspondence, reports, messages, photographs, newspapers, scrapbooks, and motion pictures. The gift shop displays General MacArthur’s 1950 Chrysler Imperial limousine which he used from 1950 to the end of his life.
The Liberation at Leyte and the Rebirth of a Republic
This Philippine mahogany relief was a part of the fourteen panels showcased in the Philippine pavilion at the New York World’s Fair in 1964. The relief depicts General MacArthur returning to the Philippines with General Carlos P. Romulo at his side as well as other scenes of Filipino 20th century history. The panel was designed by the well~known Filipino artist Carlos Francisco and was carved by young boys from eight to fourteen years of age. This mahogany relief is showcased at the MacArthur Memorial theater.
The museum proper is housed in Norfolk’s nineteenth-century City Hall, which is both a Virginia Historic Landmark and a National Historic Place. A monumental rotunda is the General and Mrs. MacArthur’s resting place. They lie surrounded by inscriptions, banners, and flags heralding his long and glories career. Nine separate galleries arranged on two levels circle the rotunda and portray the principal periods of the General’s life in striking murals, interactive exhibits, awards, posters, objects d’art, maps, photographs, models, and other significant artifacts.
A visit to the MacArthur Memorial provides a unique glimpse into the 20th century and can renew your faith in those patriotic values of Duty, Honor, Country – values which motivated Douglas MacArthur as he served his nation through some of its greatest crises and finest hours.
Educational Programs and Volunteer Opportunities
The memorial offers a variety of tours, educational programs and outreach programs tailored to meet Virginia’s Standards of Learning guidelines. Adult educational programs and tours are also offered.
Volunteers are very important part of the museum. They serve as docents and assist the curator and archivist. If you are interested in volunteering, contact the MacArthur Memorial Education Department at (757) 441-2965.
Host an Event
The MacArthur Memorial offers a patriotic setting for special events including military retirements, re-enlistments, reunions and commissionings. Classrooms can be reserved for meetings and receptions.
You can become a member of the MacArthur Committee and help the General Douglas MacArthur Foundation support exhibits, educational and leadership programs. For membership information and details on tax deductible contributions, contact the Foundation office at (757) 441-2968.
For more on the MacArthur Memorial you can visit them at www.macarthurmemorial.org