Sunday, October 02, 2005

"I Shall Return"

Ruins of the Mile Long Barracks on Corregidor. The portion in the foreground had served as MacArthur's office until the Japanese Air Force redesigned it as a rock garden.

A bronze statue of the late American Caesar, General Douglas MacArthur, on a bluff above the beach at Corregidor, the island fortress he commanded at the mouth of Manila Bay. Across the water behind him is the Bataan Peninsula. His famous motto, "I shall return," is inscribed on the stone block to his left. The guns of Corregidor delayed the Japanese conquest of the Philippines for nearly six months at the beginning of American involvement in WWII. Less than three years later, early in 1945, MacArthur did return to Corregidor in preparation for the Battle of Manila.

MacArthur's father, Arthur MacArthur Jr., still in his teens, served in the 24th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment during the Civil War and won a Congressional Medal of Honor leading a charge up Missionary Ridge in the Battle of Lookout Mountain in Tennessee. Thirty-five years later he commanded an army unit that took possession of Manila in the Pacific theatre of the Spanish-American War. The 24th was one of only a handful of regiments that trained at Camp Sigel in Milwaukee. Others included the 9th, the 26th, the 27th and the 45th. The 26th was nearly all German and served along with the 24th at Missionary Ridge. Arthur MacArthur died from a heart attack in 1912 while attending the 50th reunion of the 24th in Milwaukee.

MacArthur's grandfather, Arthur MacArthur Sr. , was a lawyer in Milwaukee. He was elected lieutenant governor in 1856, but served as governor while the outcome of the gubernatorial election was in dispute. After the Civil War he served as a federal judge in Washington D.C.. The governor of Wisconsin who was elected in 1862 drowned shortly after taking office while surveying Union casualties at Shiloh in Tennessee. His term was served out by a German, Edward Salomon, whose brothers, Charles and Frederick, both commanded Wisconsin regiments during the war.

My great great grandfather died serving in the 27th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment, commanded by Konrad Krez, a prominent German lawyer and poet from Sheboygan. Krez also commanded the 28th Wisconsin at the brigade level in the latter stages of the war.

The pictures above were taken yesterday on my second visit to Corregidor. My first visit there was five years ago shortly after I arrived in Manila. On a clear day I can look out over Manila Bay from my living room and see "the Rock" thirty miles away on the horizon.

I don't think I'm responsible for the spam barrage in the comments below.


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