"Duty, Honor, County” is the motto of the United States Military Academy at West Point. The motto was adopted in 1898 from a committee headed by Col. Charles W. Larned.
“Duty, honor, country” was used by the Whig political party and appeared in the New York (NY) American in 1843 and 1845. “Honor! Duty! Country!” was printed in an 1856 novel by William Gilmore Simms (1806-1870). Edward Stanley, 15th Earl of Derby (1826-1893) said in 1874, “Right and wrong, honor, duty, and country, benevolence toward men and responsibility toward the unseen power by which human actions are guided and controlled—these are not idle phrases.”
United States Military Academy at West Point
The U.S. Military Academt Coat of Arms and Motto
“Duty, Honor, Country,” a striking expression of West Point ’s time-honored ideals, is the motto of the U.S. Military Academy and is imbedded in its coat of arms.
Though not as old as the institution they represent, the USMA coat of arms, also referred to as the seal, and motto have a long and interesting history.
According to archival records, the coat of arms and motto were adopted in 1898. Col. Charles W. Larned, professor of drawing, headed a committee to design a coat of arms for the Academy and stated several criteria for the design. The committee decided that the design should represent the national character of the Academy, its military function, its educational function and its spirit and objectives.
Duty, Honor, Country
The eagle is grasping a scroll bearing the words “ West Point , MDCCCII (1802), USMA,” and the motto, “Duty, Honor, Country.” The motto as such was never previously stated, but in writings of early superintendents, professors and graduates, one is struck by the recurrence of the words “duty,” “honor” and “country.” Colonel Larned’s committee believed Duty, Honor, Country represented simply, but eloquently, the ideals of West Point.
25 August 1843, New-York (NY) Commercial Advertiser, “The Fall Election,” pg. 2, col. 2:
Success is certainly desirable; but successful or not, duty, honor, country, all combine, as it seems to us, to require that on every public occasion the Whigs should openly and unitedly bear their testimony against the disorganizing, mischievous aims, and the supple, pliant, and unprincipled tools of locofocoism.
(From the New York American—ed.)
10 October 1843, Centinel of Freedom (Newark, NJ), “The Coalition Consummated,” pg. 2, col. 2:
No true Whig can hesitate a moment when duty, honor and country demand his most strenuous efforts.
29 January 1845, Newark (NJ) Daily Advertiser, pg. 2, col. 2:
Duty, Honor, Country, and the proper sense of their own exclusive rights and privileges, all prompt them to rebuke and reject this movement of the House of Representatives; and we have faith that the Senate will not disappoint the anxious trust reposed in them by the wise and the good.—N. Y. American.
Eutaw: a sequel to The forayers: or, The raid of the dog-days. A tale of the revolution
By William Gilmore Simms
New York, NY: W. J. Widdleton
“Honor! Honor! Duty! Country! what sacrifices of the heart ye ask at our hands!”
27 January 1874, New-York (NY) Daily Tribune, pg. 4, col. 5:
There was a pure and sturdy manliness about Lord Derby’s recent speech on self-culture which commends it to Young America as well as to Young England.
“Right and wrong, honor, duty, and country, benevolence toward men and responsibility toward the unseen power by which human actions are guided and controlled—these are not idle phrases.”
(This was also printed in a February 28, 1874 newspaper available online in Chronicling America—ed.)
17 February 1899, Duluth (MN) News Tribune, pg. 6, col. 4:
AS POINTED AS ICICLES.
Straight Stories and Eye-catching Fancies.
The emblems of seals of the West Point and Annapolis Academies have been cut into the front of the new University club building, New York city.
Prof. Larned of the Military Academy, tells in the Army and Navy Journal of the adoption of the emblem for that institution. A committee was appointed in May, 1896, to report upon a design and motto. Prof. Larned’s design was chosen. As officially described, the arms of the Academy are: “On a shield bearing arms of the United States of America, the emblem of the United States Military Academy, viz: a helmet of Pallas over a Greek sword proper. Crest—an eagle with wings displayed. Motto—‘Duty, Honor, Country,’ borne on a scroll with the words, ‘West Points, 180 U. S. M. A.’”
(This was also printed in a February 26, 1899 newspaper available online in Chronicling America—ed.)
The Air University
General MacArthur’s Thayer Award Speech—Duty, Honor, Country (1962)
The address by General of the Army Douglas MacArthur to the cadets of the U.S. Military Academy in accepting the Sylvanus Thayer Award on 12 May 1962 is a memorable tribute to the ideals that inspired that great American soldier. For as long as other Americans serve their country as courageously and honorably as he did, General MacArthur’s words will live on.
In my dreams I hear again the crash of guns, the rattle of musketry, the strange, mournful mutter of the battlefield. But in the evening of my memory always I come back to West Point. Always there echoes and re-echoes: Duty, honor, country.
What Happened to “Duty, Honor, Country”?
November 15, 2012
RUSH: (...) But since the theme today is the overall decline of the institutions—duty, honor, country, all these things—clearly, those things were set aside here in this episode, and this guy makes that point.
“David Petraeus gloried in wearing every token of service on his chest, including presumably the good conduct ribbon. Or maybe not! The good conduct medal only goes to grunts, not officers. Clearly, the good conduct award should hereafter be a badge of misplaced military expectations. Nonetheless; the US Army, West Point, and officers like Petraeus continue to pay lip service to traditional military values and ethics like ‘duty, honor, and country.’ The second imperative seems to have been honored in breach by the former ISAF commander. It’s hard to believe, as it was with Bill Clinton, that Paula Broadwell was a ‘one off.’”
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • Thursday, November 15, 2012 • Permalink