MATTHEW B. RIDGWAY Discusses the stakes in the Korean conflict Typed Manuscript signed: "M. B. Ridgway" as Lieutenant General, 2p, 8½x11. No place, no date

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Discusses the stakes in the Korean conflict
Typed Manuscript signed: "M. B. Ridgway" as Lieutenant General, 2p, 8½x11. No place, no date. Titled: "Why are we here? What are we fighting for?" In full: "During my first few weeks in Korea it seemed to me two questions were uppermost in the minds of the members of the Eighth Army. These were: 'Why are we here?' and 'What are we fighting for?' As Commander of that Army I believed that all its members had a right to know my answers, which on January 21, 1951, I directed to be conveyed to every individual assigned or attached to Eighth Army. The answers follow. The answer to the first question. 'Why are we here?' (I wrote) is simple and conclusive. We are here because of the decisions of the properly constituted authorities of our respective governments. As the Commander in Chief, United Nations Command, General of the Army Douglas MacArthur has said: 'This command intends to maintain a military position in Korea just as long as the Statesmen of the United Nations decide we should do so.' The answer is simple because further comment is unnecessary. It is conclusive because the loyalty we give, and expect, precludes any slightest questioning of these orders. The second question is of much greater significance, and every member of this command is entitled to a full and reasoned answer. Mine follows. To me, the issues are clear. It is not a question of this or that Korean town or village. Real estate is, here, incidental. It is not restricted to the issue of freedom for our South Korean Allies, whose fidelity and valor under the severest stresses of battle we recognize; though that freedom is a symbol of the wider issues, and included among them. The real issues are whether the power of Western civilization, as God had permitted it to flower in our own beloved lands, shall defy and defeat Communism; whether the rule of men who shoot their prisoners, enslave their citizens, and deride the dignity of man, shall displace the rule of those to whom the individual and his individual rights are sacred; whether we are to survive with God's hand to guide and lead us, or to perish in the dead existence of a Godless world. If these be true, and to me they are, beyond any possibility of challenge, then this has long since ceased to be a fight for freedom for our Korean Allies alone and for their national survival. It has become, and it continues to be, a fight for our own freedom, for our own survival, in an honorable, independent national existence. The sacrifices we have made, and those we shall yet support, are not offered vicariously for others, but in our direct defense. In the final analysis, the issue now joined right here in Korea is whether Communism or individual freedom shall prevail; whether the flight of fear-driven people we have witnessed here shall be checked, or shall at some time, however distant, engulf our own loved ones in all its misery and dispair [sic]. There are the things for which we fight. Never have members of any military command had a greater challenge than we, or a finer opportunity to show ourselves and our people at their best - and thus to do honor to the profession of arms, and to those brave men who bred us." Ridgway (1895-1993) planned and executed the U.S. Army's first airborne assault (in Sicily) during World War II. He parachuted into Normandy on D-Day and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. When he took command of the Eighth Army in Korea in December 1950, he moved immediately to revitalize the seriously demoralized Army, which had been forced to retreat after the entry of Chinese Communist forces into the conflict. He succeeded so well that by late January 1951, the Eighth Army took the offensive again. He replaced General MacArthur as Allied Commander of the U.N. forces in the Far East after MacArthur was recalled by President Truman in April 1951 (for publicly questioned Truman's strategy). Ridgway succeeded Eisenhower as Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe in 1952 and was Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army from 1953-1955. Here Ridgway eloquently defines the stakes in Korea. In retrospect, it seems ironic that Ridgway also invokes MacArthur's name to support the view that orders should never be questioned, since MacArthur was soon to be removed from command for doing just that. Very lightly toned. Otherwise, fine condition.

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