Today I enjoyed a humbling privilege: attending the 67th anniversary of the Battle of Midway ceremony.
The Navy Memorial was packed with sailors in summer white. More sailors stood outside the fountains. The memorial itself, a bluejacket surveying a circular representation of the world, has the neat feature of letting any spot be celebrated. The clouds, of course, waited until the handful of living veterans were seated before dropping any tears. The Chief of Naval Operations laid a wreath in the Pacific at that fateful island's location.
The CNO quoted Ensign William R. Evans Jr. Some background:
Ensign William R. Evans Jr. was an Indianapolis native. He was a pilot of one of the 15 TBD-1 Devastator Torpedo planes of torpedo squadron 8 from the U.S.S. Hornet during the Battle of Midway on June 4th 1942. All 15 of these planes were shot down by the Japanese Zero CAP fighters. 29 of the 30 crewmen including Ensign Evans were killed. The sole survivor was Ensign George Gay.With that background, grasp what this hero Evans wrote:
"Many of my friends are now dead. To a man, each died with a nonchalance that each would have denied as courage. They simply called it lack of fear. If anything great or good is born of this war, it should not be valued in the colonies we may win nor in the pages historians will attempt to write, but rather in the youth of our country, who never trained for war; rather almost never believed in war, but who have, from some hidden source, brought forth a gallantry which is homespun, it is so real.
When you hear others saying harsh things about American youth, do all in your power to help others keep faith with those who gave so much. Tell them that out here, between a spaceless sea and sky, American youth has found itself and given itself so that, at home the spark may catch. There is much I cannot say, which should be said before it is too late. It is my fear that national inertia will cancel the gains made won at such a price. My luck can't last much longer, but the flame goes on and on."
In these days, that penultimate sentence is chilling: "It is my fear that national inertia will cancel the gains made won at such a price."
For Evan's sake, let that not be so. A roundup of squid blogs:
- USNI blog. Great quotation of the CINCPAC Operational Order to TF 17 Commander. Those things are bearish to write, after the "define the universe; be concise, yet complete" fashion.
- Information Dissemination: "The battle of Midway is our nations Trafalgar."
- USS Gonzolaz. Shout out to my NWC classmate.
Additionally, DrewM at Ace of Spades has thoughts.