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Sunday, 7 July 46
Dear Ruth, Will try to give you a brief message about the big Independence day here in Manila on the 4th. In order to be there bright and early I stayed with my old JAG schoolmate, Manning Webster, chief of prosecution of the war criminals here in Manila, whose quarters are next to City Hall on Taft Avenue, within walking distance of about six city blocks from the stand where the ceremony was to take place. Webster is leaving tomorrow for a 10 day sightseeing trip to Japan and from there back home. That leaves me as the last of the Mohicans, which is far from being good. Since the program called for those with seats in the stands to be there at 6:40 AM, those with box seats to be there by 7:00, and then scheduled the arrival of various dignitaries from then on until arrival of Pres. Roxas and McNutt shortly before 8:00 AM, I, being a true lover of nature and not liking the crowded conditions with chairs in the stands, arose at 5:45 to get a cup of coffee and my first egg-for-breakfast in better than two weeks, and so-journ to the appointed place to take up the watch on the far curb directly across the street from the speakers stand. A steady flow of people on foot, in trucks, and jitneys remodeled from jeeps to accomodate about 12 Filipinos proceeded along with me. These people love a parade. I've seen many pictures of Germans marching the goose-step, apparently to martial music, but these people all just listlessly "gather". They'll turn out for any float and perhaps for any speech, altho the speeches don't interrupt their constant jabber in Tagalong and they wonder who the speaker is. The day looked promising with the sun very bright and hot, the rains usually coming in the afternoon, when the affair should have been over. When the dignitaries arrived by car they proceeded to the back of the stands where they undoubtedly wiped their brows, shook hands around, and wished for a bottle of good cold beer. About 7:40 they were announced to the crowd, which at that time was not too great, perhaps 15000, and as each group was announced it took its place in the boxes immediately behind the speakers rostrum. Even with my glasses on I was so far away that only the color of their clothes was distinguishabl It was most evident who the man of the hour was for the local people. When MacArthur, who had come by plane from Tokyo, was announced and proceeded to the front of the stand where he took his bows, posing for photographers and shaking hands (undoubtedly with some of the boys who had met him a couple of days before at the airport) the crowd clapped and roared for their dark-haried (not much hair tho) boy. I always thought he made a great blunder when he said "I shall return" but as far as the Filipinos are concerned it means just that. There have been many jokes and wisecracks made about the remark, but when he does return one might as well forget about the rest of the army because MacArthur holds the spotlight. I even heard that they made him an honorary member of the Philippine Army and ordered his name called at roll every so often with a Filipino officer answering "Present in spirit". That is supposed to be true, and at least goes to show that he's their hero and adopted citizen. Roxas and McNutt each got