George S. Patton was a larger-than-life WWII General famed for both his accomplishments as a commander as well as his colorful and strong personality. But despite these things he was considered politically unskilled.
Below we’ve found an entry from his personal diary dated May 1, 1944 – just 6 weeks before D-Day! In it he recounts the day he met with President Eisenhower after making an egregious political mistake. Patton had spoken to a journalist about his belief that the American and British peoples were destined to rule the world together. His mistake was in not mentioning their then-ally, the Soviets! The mistake resulted in heavy media coverage (“the writings of a group of unprincipled reporters”) and left Patton’s superiors questioning his ability to lead (To quote Patton in the entry, his critics believed that “even if I was the best tactician and strategist in the army, my demonstrated lack of judgment made me unfit to command.”)
The pages-long entry recounts one day soon after the incident. He talks of waking up (“I slept well and trust my destiny”) and his meeting with President Eisenhower (“Ike said General Marshall had told him that my crime had destroyed all chance of my permanent promotion.”) The entry pictured below is one of the final pages of this entry and recounts what he did and how he felt after leaving Eisenhower’s office (“When I came out I don’t think anyone could tell that I had just been killed.”)
In the page Patton talks of his feelings of despair and uncertainty about his future. He talks of a poem he had been repeatedly reciting to himself for comfort. But ultimately he talks of being hopeful, believing that he is nonetheless destined for greatness and that whatever happens is meant to be!
Here’s the full text from the page:
[Not pictured: I feel like death, but I am not out yet. If they will let me fight, I will; but if not, I will resign so as to be able to talk, and then I will tell] the truth, and possibly do my country more good. All the way home, 5 hours, I recited poetry to myself.
“If you can make a heap of all your winnings
And risk them on one game of pitch and toss
And lose, and start at your beginning
And never breathe a word about your loss”
“I dared extreme occasion and never one betrayed.”
My final thought on the matter is that I am destined to achieve some great thing—what I don’t know, but this last incident was so trivial in its nature, but so terrible in its effect, that it is not the result of an accident but the work of God. His Will be done.
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