Sunday, June 03, 2012

More than Midway

Tomorrow (which is almost here as I write this) will be the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Midway.  It will not receive enough attention.  Midway was the American Trafalgar--our greatest naval victory.  As Adm. Chester Nimitz, Commander-in-Chief in the Pacific, said, before Midway he did not know whether the sun on the Japanese flag was rising or setting; after Midway he knew that it was going down.  

A post like this cannot do justice to what happened in those days in 1942--the valor (on both sides), the moral courage, the determination that characterized the battle.  

I was tempted to try to summarize what happened at Midway, but I cannot do it in one post, or even a few.  Instead, I recommend--indeed, implore--that you read more about it.  You can find the bare bones in sources such as Wikipedia.  Better are a number of books about the battle.  My favorite, although it qualifies as "popular" history, is Walter Lord's great Incredible Victory; some of the individual stories recounted there will inspire you.  A magnificent recent one-volume history of the first six months of the naval war is Ian Toll's Pacific Crucible, which includes superb portraits of many of the key figures in the battle.  The volume on The Coral Sea and Midway in Samuel Eliot Morison's History of United States Naval Operations in World War II can easily be read alone by someone interested in that slice of the war.  (Morison includes a comprehensive order of battle, down to the American squadron leaders.)  For online information, see The Battle of Midway Roundtable.  

Oh, and one more thing:  please take a few moments to stop and think about the men who fought and died to change the course of history.  They deserve to be mentioned in the same breath with those who were at the other of history's greatest battles.