Who would have guessed that a man who achieved one of the highest rankings in the military-General of the Army-was a true “Mama’s Boy?” We are talking a mother obsessed with her son’s success, and, maybe, just maybe could be the reason for that success? Pinkie MacArthur, mother of General Douglas MacArthur, could very well be Helicopter Mother of the ages. I do feel some empathy for this driven woman, because Pinkie was raised during the Victorian Era when any success she might have achieved would be through the success of her husband and/or sons. Pinkie had very few outlets for her drive and ambition other than through her son.
So, there is no surprise in the fact that every night at bedtime throughout his childhood, young Douglas heard his mother say: “You must grow up to be a great man – like your father and Robert E. Lee.”
General Douglas MacArthur was rejected twice for acceptance to West Point. Finally, he was accepted on the third try, and his mother got in full “helicopter mom” mode and moved to West Point with him. She left her family in Texas, moved into a hotel overlooking West Point, and proceeded to make sure her son did not fail. She propped a ladder against his second story window, so she could have easy access to her son at any time.
Pinky MacArthur must have been beaming with pride when her boy was first in his graduating class of 1893. 3 major wars-WWI, WWII, and the Korean War were further opportunities for Douglas MacArthur to shine and show his strength in the military and strategic command. He is credited with the surrender of Japan, and was held in the highest esteem for his military acumen. Did he attribute any of his success to his mother’s obsessive interest in him? NO! He arrogantly responded when asked about his phenomenal military career-“I do believe it was destiny.”
I wish I could meet Pinkie-there is little doubt that she was intelligent, ambitious and accomplished. Woman no longer need to channel their ambitions through their male children to find fulfilment=I feel a little embarrassed for her when I imagine her climbing up that ladder to check on her boy.
But at the end of the day, I feel compelled to say “Well done, Pinkie. You and your boy achieved great success.”
The event led to the largest naval battle of World War II and Japan’s eventual defeat and surrender after almost three years.
This iconic image has been memorialized in statues in the Philippines.