Patton’s Motivating Speech on the Eve of the D-Day
Nicknamed ‘Old Blood and Guts’ by his men, General George S. Patton Jr was a colourful, controversial character. he was quick-tempered , tough-minded and outspoken as an officer. He was a strong disciplinarian who gained the loyalty of his men through his own self-sacrifice.
He had uncommon oratory skills that could rally the troops. Never using notes, Patton always addressed his men in down-to-earth language and in a profane style that is forthright. Patton himself said of swearing, ‘You can’t run an army without profanity; and it has to be eloquent profanity!”
Here are the excerpts of one of the most motivating speeches in the military history of the world that General Patton gave to the men of the Third Army some where in England on 5 June 1944 just before the D-Day:
“…You are here today for three reasons. First, because you are here to defend your homes and your loved ones. Second, your are here for your own self respect, because, you would not want to be anywhere else. Third, you are here because you are real men and all real men like to fight. When you, here, every one of you were kids, you all admired the champion marble player, the fastest runner, the toughest boxer, the big league ball players and the All-American football players. Americans love a winner. Americans will not tolerate a loser. Americans despise cowards. Americans play to win all of the time. I wouldn’t give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That’s why Americans have never lost nor will ever lose a war; for the very idea of losing is hateful to an American.
You are not all going to die. Only two per cent of you right here today would die in a major battle. Death must not be feared. Death, in time, comes to all men. Yes, every man is scared in his first battle. If he says, he’s not, he’s a liar. Some men are cowards but they fight the same as the brave men or they get the hell slammed out of them watching men fight who are just as scared as they are. The real hero is the man who fights even though he is scared. Some men get over their fright in a minute under fire. For some, it takes an hour. For some it takes days. But a real man will never let his fear of death overpower his honour, his sense of duty to his country and his innate manhood.
Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best and removes all that is base. Americans pride themselves on being He Men and they are He Men. Remember that the enemy is just as frightened as you are, and probably more so. They are not supermen.
…All the real heroes are not storybook combat fighters, either. Every single man in this army plays a vital role. Don’t ever let up. Don’t ever think that your job is unimportant. Every man has a job to do and he must do it. Every man is a vital link in the great chain. What if every truck driver suddenly decided that he didn’t like the whine of those shells overhead, turned yellow, and jumped headlong into a ditch? The cowardly bastard could say, ‘Hell, they won’t miss me, just one man in thousands.’ But, what if every man thought that way? Where in the hell would we be now? What would our country, our loved ones, our homes, even the world, be like? No, goddamn it, Americans don’t think like that. Every man does his job. Every man serves the whole. Every department, every unit, is important in the vast scheme of this war.
…Sure, we want to go home. We want this war over with. the quickest way to get it over with is to go get the bastards who started it. The quicker they are shipped, the quicker we can go home. The shortest way home is through Berlin and Tokyo. And when we get to Berlin, I am personally going to shoot that paperhanging sonofabitch Hitler. Just like I’d shoot a snake!
…There is one great thing that you men will be able to say after this war is over and you are home once again. You may be thankful that twenty years from now when you are sitting by the fireplace with your grandson on your knee and he asks you what you did in the great World War II, you won’t have to cough, shift him to the other knee and say, ‘Well, your granddaddy shovelled shit in Louisiana.” No,sir, you can look him straight in the eye and say, ‘Son, your granddaddy rode with the great Third Army and a son-of-a-goddamned-bitch named George Patton!”
Now, what can we learn from this great motivational speech and apply those lessons to reinforce our own persuasive communication strategies in rallying our own troupes to win at whatever task that we are committed to?