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The Great Americans of Wwii

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Donald Smith

Prof. Keller

History 20 2234

May 12, 2012

The Great Americans of WWII

Throughout history there were many individuals who exemplified and lived out the meaning of what a great American is from Rosa Parks, Fredrick Douglas, Martin Luther King and the list goes on. But the question I ask is what constitutes as a great American. For the criteria for this can be interpreted in many ways with a few common ideas. The criteria I feel best fits this is a person who in great turmoil finds the courage to be a leader when no one else has the strength to, also is able to make a decision using both common knowledge and understanding all possible outcomes for their decision. The people that I chose that I feel best fits these criteria's is Franklin D. Roosevelt who was the president during World War II and General George S. Patton who was the commander in the U.S Army during WW II and a list of others.

The first great American I would like to talk about is General George. S. Patton. General Patton was born on November 11,1885 in San Gabriel, California. In a documentary on it was noted that in General Patton's years as a child he always wanted to be someone people could look up to and to follow in the footsteps of many of his family members who have previously served in memorable wars such as the Civil war, the Revolutionary war, and the Mexican war. It was also noted in the documentary about general Patton that as a child he was able to read and comprehend military strategic maps. I believed this statement is an example of him knowing his future of becoming a great American. Many years later General Patton enrolled into West Point Military Academy. During his enrollment at West Point General Patton was able to participate in the Olympic games held in Stockholm in 1912 where in my opinion he was able to display his ability to be among the elite of the world when he placed 5th overall out of the hundreds of participants.

Shortly after his time at West Point General Patton was given the first of his many notable assignment in 1915 when he was shipped to Fort Bliss near the Mexican Border to be apart of the staff of General John J Pershing where he led several patrols along the border for the year and according to H. Essame this is where General Patton received his first exposure to combat (Essame 28). During his Mexican Border Campaign George Patton was credited with the capturing of Francisco Villa from the success of his Mexican Border Campaign not only did George Patton receive national attention and accreditation for being a key instrumental role in the capture of Francisco Villa but George Patton was promoted to the rank of Captain by General Pershing where he was left to command the troops in Mexico (

After promoting George Patton to Captain General Pershing was sent to command troops in Europe during WWI he brought along George Patton because he was impressed by George Patton's determination and skill. While in Europe George Patton was placed in the newly developed Tank corps (Essame 77). It was while he was in this unit that he was accredited with the capture of the city of Metz in which this was the first time this has been accomplished in history ( During his time with the tank corps George Patton always made his opinion known for his support for tanks being the weapon of the future ( After WWI George Patton was given a grant to start an American tank school it was also during this time that George Patton made national news once again which he had quite the act for but this time it was for when he won the congressional medal of honor when he rescued three boys from a over turned boat in Salem harbor Finally towards the end of the 1930s George Patton had a feeling that another war was about to happen and he eagerly keep pursuing to receive a grant for a new tank division since his old unit was disbanded many years prior.

Then in the late 1930's WWII broke out and the very thing that George Patton was protesting for was being utilized by the Germans so needless to say he was given his grant to create a Armored infantry and he was also promoted with his first star to the rank on General ( later in April 1941 General Patton was named the commanding General of the second armored division in FT. Benning, Georgia

Later in 1942 General Patton took command at the western task force, which is credited for being the only all American task force to be in North Africa, and in 1944 he was given command of the 3rd Army ( Then On May 31st 1944 during WWI General Patton gathered his men together and gave them a speech better titled by the name "3rd Army Speech" in the speech General Patton was giving many examples as to reasons why his troops should give it their all in winning this war but a great example of the type of motivation he gave his troops comes from this quote when General Patton states:

Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser.

Americans play to win all the time. I wouldn't give a hoot in Hell for a man who lost and laughed. That's why Americans have never lost and will never lose a war. Because the very thought of losing is hateful to Americans. Now, an army is a team. It lives, eats, sleeps, fights as a team. This individuality stuff is a bunch of crap. The Bilious bastards, who wrote that stuff about individuality for the Saturday Evening Post, don't know anything more about real battle than they do about fornicating. Now we have the finest food and equipment, the best spirit, and the best men in the world. You know ... My God; I actually pity those poor bastards we're going up against. My God, I do. (Patton 1)

From that quote you can see General Patton's direct leadership ability and non sugar coated approach to informing his men as to the type of spirit a person must have in a unit in order to win a war and in order to have a effective team by having the determination and will power that most Americans had during this time frame. After this speech General Patton Gave another Memorable Speech hours before D'DAY known as the D Day speech. A notable part of the speech in my opinion is when General Patton states:

The real hero is the man who fights even though he is scared. Some men get over their fright in a minute under fire. For some, it takes an hour. For some, it takes days. But a real man will never let his fear of death overpower his honor, his sense of duty to his country, and his innate manhood. Battle is the most magnificent competition



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