As the Obama administration continues to inexplicably wring its hands over mere mention of the global war on Islamic terror — the war that dare not speak its name — it’s worth recalling a savage and decisive battle waged 69 years ago in the South Pacific.
The first months of 1942 were grim for the United States and its World War II allies. Hitler controlled Europe with a ruthless, cutting-edge war machine. Imperial Japan, meanwhile, had destroyed the heart of the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor and conquered the Philippines, along with numerous other islands throughout the Pacific. But at Midway Island, an otherwise unremarkable atoll 1,200 miles west of Hawaii, U.S. forces beat back the Japanese advance and turned the tide of the awful war in the Pacific.
From June 4 to June 6, 1942, U.S. sailors and airmen not only held the line against Japan, but delivered what would prove to be a crippling defeat to the Imperial Navy. Japan lost four aircraft carriers in the battle, and its feared fleet never recovered.
The U.S. victory came at a terrible price. The now-legendary Torpedo Squadron 8 lost all 15 of its aircraft, and only one of its 30 pilots and gunners survived Midway. By drawing Japanese fighters away from imperial ships, however, the squadron enabled U.S. dive bombers to take out the deadly Japanese carriers.
Historians now recognize Midway as the turning point in the Pacific war. It would take three long years and almost-unfathomable human sacrifice to defeat Japan after that battle, but the Japanese military would never be the same after June 6, 1942.
At a time when local veterans of World War II are traveling to their war memorial in Washington, D.C. — thanks to the efforts of, among others, a small army of dedicated volunteers comprising the VetsRoll.org program in South Beloit — we are reminded that America and the world owe a huge debt of gratitude to those who fought at Midway. Their numbers decline steadily, but they remain a symbol of the depth of sacrifice required of a great nation at war.
Sadly, that lesson seems lost on the current ruling class, which, reflexively prone to self-loathing, bowing before tyrants and appeasement, seems incapable of such resolve. As the memory of Midway recedes into history, how will our feckless leaders ever inspire victory in the current war if they cannot even name the enemy — radical Islam — let alone fight it the way our Pacific warriors did 69 years ago at Midway?
Read more on the Outlook and Perspective pages of CSI's Walworth County Sunday e-edition on pages 8A and 9A. and add your comments below.