My wife and I were busy doing the usual 200-channel shuffle, on a night American Pickers and Pawn Stars were not on TV, when we stumbled across MacArthur. This movie was made in 1977 and featured Gregory Peck as Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
Less than an hour into the movie, President Franklin Roosevelt, in a meeting with MacArthur aboard ship in Pearl Harbor, presents the general with a presidential campaign button “MacArthur for President,” allegedly from the American people. It was a lighthearted Hollywood moment, but made an important point. The American people loved their general.
This scene got me to thinking about old Dugout Doug, nicknamed for his life in tunnels when the Japanese were invading the Philippines. While MacArthur never was a party nominee for president, as the scene with FDR shows, his popularity with the American people grew and grew. Later, when he was ousted from his position of command during the Korean War in a dispute with President Truman, his ratings remained high, despite Truman’s lowest-ever popularity rating of 23 percent.
Gen. MacArthur and his father were the only American father-son team each to be awarded the medal of honor until Theodore Roosevelt and his son TR Jr. were given the awards, each posthumously. Honorable company, for sure.
MacArthur collectibles come in many types. There are china pieces, pennants, banners, buttons and ribbons, to name a few. They generally fall into two categories – those of war hero and those of presidential hopeful. Many thought MacArthur would run for president in 1952, but he chose not to run. Still, items were produced and are prized by political and militaria collectors today.
Collecting MacArthur can be a rewarding hobby. Many 60-year-old buttons, for example, are still available in the $10-$15 range. It’s a good place for a new collector to start.