MacArthur and Norfolk
On April 11, 1964, the eyes of the world were on Norfolk, Virginia, USA, as General of the Army Douglas MacArthur was laid to rest in the Rotunda of the MacArthur Memorial. For some, Norfolk might have seemed an odd choice for MacArthur’s final resting place. MacArthur was known for his devotion to the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, and despite having spent most of his life moving from one military post to another, he had never lived in Norfolk.
So what made him choose Norfolk, VA?
MacArthur’s connection to the city was simple. Norfolk was the hometown of his mother Mary Pinkney Hardy and the site of the Hardy family home Riveredge. In 1875, his parents were married in Norfolk and in 1876 his oldest brother Arthur MacArthur III was born in the city. Another older brother, Malcom MacArthur, died in Norfolk in 1883, while the family was there on holiday. He was buried in Norfolk’s Cedar Grove Cemetery. Decades later, on November 18, 1951, MacArthur and his family came to Norfolk, VA at the request of Norfolk’s city leaders.
MacArthur spoke at a ceremony dedicating a new city park on the site where Riveredge once stood. The park was dedicated to MacArthur’s mother and the brick wall that lined the new park was made entirely of bricks salvaged from Riveredge.
During the day’s festivities, MacArthur stated that he felt that he had finally come home. Remembering this sentiment, in 1960 Mayor Fred Duckworth presented the General with the idea of a creating a museum and repository in Norfolk for the General’s library, papers, and other memorabilia. Norfolk’s offer of the old City Hall Building (c. 1850) as the site for the proposed MacArthur museum appealed to MacArthur. On the condition that he and his wife Jean MacArthur could be buried in the Rotunda of the museum, MacArthur entered into a partnership with the City of Norfolk. The resulting MacArthur Memorial opened in January of 1964.