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The American Experience

Where in the World is Douglas MacArthur?

Where in the World is Douglas MacArthur?When Douglas MacArthur was born in 1880, trains were the transportation mode of choice: it had been just eleven years since the transcontinental railroad had opened up the vast western American interior for development. His father, a Civil War hero, instructed troops in the use of the breech-loading, single-shot, Springfield '73 rifle. And no one had ever heard of the phrase "World War."

When MacArthur died in 1964, the jet airplane made travel intercontinental, not transcontinental, with travel time measured in hours rather than days. The United States and the Soviet Union, among other countries, threatened each other with vast arsenals of hydrogen bombs, each one capable of destroying a city. And the stage for this "Cold War" had been set by two World Wars within thirty years. Douglas MacArthur fought in both.

MacArthur's career was extraordinary in so many ways. As biographer Geoffrey Perret notes in the opening of his book "Old Soldiers Never Die," in his eighty-four years MacArthur "never spent a day, or even an hour, outside the United States Army." It's hardly surprising, then, that he saw much of the world during his relatively long life. But beyond being widely traveled, it seems as if MacArthur simply did more -- and took part in more history -- than all but a handful of individuals.

The animated map below offers a unique way to capture the breathtaking scope of this remarkable life. Choose to step through his life chronologically, or select a location to find out when he was there and what he was doing. Keep in mind that this includes only highlights, leaving out many of his briefer assignments....

As you watch, ask yourself how this nomadic life might have affected MacArthur, and had an impact on his world view and conduct.