Audie Murphy

American soldier, actor, songwriter (1925–1971)

Audie Leon Murphy (20 June 1925 – 28 May 1971) was an American soldier, actor, and songwriter. He was one of the most decorated American combat soldiers of World War II. He received every military combat award for valor available from the United States Army, as well as French and Belgian awards for heroism. Murphy received the Medal of Honor for valor that he demonstrated at the age of 19 for single-handedly holding off a company of German soldiers for an hour at the Colmar Pocket in France in January 1945, before leading a successful counterattack while wounded and out of ammunition.

Audie Murphy in 1948

After the war, Murphy embarked on a 21-year acting career. He played himself in the 1955 autobiographical film To Hell and Back, based on his 1949 memoirs of the same name, but most of his roles were in Westerns. He made guest appearances on celebrity television shows and starred in the series Whispering Smith. Murphy was a fairly accomplished songwriter. Murphy died in a plane crash in Virginia in 1971, shortly before his 46th birthday.

Quotes

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  • The true meaning of America, you ask? It’s in a Texas rodeo, in a policeman’s badge, in the sound of laughing children, in a political rally, in a newspaper. ... In all these things, and many more, you’ll find America. In all these things, you’ll find freedom. And freedom is what America means to the world. And to me.
  • Seems to me that if you're afraid or living with some big fear, you're not really living. You're only half alive. I don't care if it’s the boss you're scared of or a lot of people in a room or diving off of a dinky little board, you gotta get rid of it. You owe it to yourself. Makes sort of a zombie out of you being afraid. I mean you want to be free, don't you? And how can you if you are scared? That's prison. Fear's a jailer. Mind now, I'm not a professor on the subject. I just found it out for myself. But that's what I think.
    • "Quotation from Audie Murphy: American Soldier", by Harold Simpson (1999), pp. 369-371
  • I was scared before every battle. That old instinct of self-preservation is a pretty basic thing, but while the action was going on some part of my mind shut off and my training and discipline took over. I did what I had to do.
    • "Quotation from Audie Murphy: American Soldier", by Harold Simpson (1999), pp. 369-371
  • People are very quick to ridicule others for showing fear. But we rarely know the secret springboards behind human action. The man who shows great fear today may be tomorrow's hero. Who are we to judge?"
    • "Quotation from Audie Murphy: American Soldier", by Harold Simpson (1999), pp. 369-371
  • If you're afraid of anything, why not take a chance and do the thing you fear. Sometimes it's the only way to get over being afraid. The way I see it, if you're scared of something you'd better get busy and do something about it. I'd call that a challenge - and I believe that the way to grow is to meet all the challenges as they come along.
    • "Quotation from Audie Murphy: American Soldier", by Harold Simpson (1999), pp. 369-371
  • I don't know what bravery is, sometimes it takes more courage to get up and run than to stay. You either just do it or you don't. I got so scared the first day in combat I just decided to go along with it.
    • "Quotation from Audie Murphy: American Soldier", by Harold Simpson (1999), pp. 369-371
  • Loyalty to your comrades, when you come right down to it, has more to do with bravery in battle than even patriotism does. You may want to be brave, but your spirit can desert you when things really get rough. Only you find you can't let your comrades down and in the pinch they can't let you down either.
    • "Quotation from Audie Murphy: American Soldier", by Harold Simpson (1999), pp. 369-371
  • I am in favor of no more war but as long as war clouds hover over the earth, as a citizen, I feel we should be prepared for the worst.
    • "Quotation from Audie Murphy: American Soldier", by Harold Simpson (1999), pp. 369-371
  • War robs you mentally and physically, it drains you. Things don't thrill you anymore. It's a struggle everyday to find something interesting to do.
    • "Quotation from Audie Murphy: American Soldier", by Harold Simpson (1999), pp. 369-371
  • I've learned that the freedom I sought and found is not always freedom in the common sense of the word. As I see it, men fight for the right to give their independence to those who love and respect it.
    • "Quotation from Audie Murphy: American Soldier", by Harold Simpson (1999), pp. 369-371
  • I'm just a friendly, sort of scrawny, freckled face kid from Texas, so how can anyone honestly expect me to maintain an air of superiority and romantic mystery?
    • "Quotation from Audie Murphy: American Soldier", by Harold Simpson (1999), pp. 369-371

Dedication address at the Alabama War Memorial Ceremony (1968) (excerpts)

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  • The first concerns a disturbing attitude toward the military service that seems to be developing of late. There is a growing tendency to regard military service as an onerous chore rather than an exciting opportunity. The chance to serve one’s country is a high privilege, not a wearisome sacrifice. I feel quite certain that not one of the gallant men, honored here, regretted the years he spent in the uniform of these United States.
  • Somehow…perhaps without intending it, perhaps because we have felt guilty about raging war and have mistakenly looked to the abstraction ‘Peace’ as a panacea for all our ills, we have more and more tended to view military service as an unworthy occupation. But when has man ever known Peace? A great American soldier and statesman once said, “If man ever does find the solution to world peace, it will be the most revolutionary reversal of his record he has ever known.” By all means let us keep searching for Peace, but until it is at least a possibility, let’s keep our powder dry and not downgrade the noble profession which safeguards our freedom.
  • Let me speak from my own personal experience for a moment. I was a soldier for a few years early in my life, and though I have been fortunate to win some success in other fields, I look back on the days I spent in uniform as the most rewarding of my entire career. There is no greater satisfaction, no greater opportunity, a man can have on this earth than the chance to stake the ultimate…his life…fighting for freedom and for country.
  • All men are born to die…and if one man must go a few turns of the earth sooner than the next…what has he really lost? In life, quality is what counts, not quantity. It’s not how long, but how well one lives that matters the most. Who among us would hang on for a few brief moments longer, to leave a worse world behind…or refuse to depart a bit earlier, if he could leave a better world to his children and posterity? I would like to turn now to a subject that seems to be receiving a great deal of attention recently, the younger generation. I don’t believe there was such a thing when I was a kid, but we have them today…and a much maligned group they are. I won’t attempt to explore the reasons for this now, except to suggest that the bizarre and unusual make news, and television can easily, if not intentionally, create the illusion that a handful of deserters are the entire army.
  • Our country has never in its history been involved in a war as controversial and as frustrating as the bitter struggle in which we are now engaged in Southeast Asia. No war has ever been fought under more trying circumstances, yet our young men in the field fight on with courage and a high morale never surpassed in the history of the Republic.
  • Challenge and Response…That’s what this great nation is all about. If we respond properly to the challenge these fine, young people confront us with…If we hand them a better nation than we received, I know they will not let us – or themselves – down. I don’t have the slightest doubt that they will build upon what they are given, and that the future of this great country is safe in their strong, resolute, young hands.
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