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Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Midway

Admiral Cecil D. Haney, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, speaking at the commemoration of 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Midway | USFWS
Admiral Cecil D. Haney, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, speaking at the commemoration of 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Midway | USFWS

Seventy-five years ago, the United States experienced one of its greatest victories of World War II on Midway Atoll. During the Battle of Midway, we faced an overwhelming enemy, but the immense skill and bravery of the men who fought in the skies, on land, and in and under the sea enabled us to win. The outcome of the battle was truly built on their heroism and sacrifice. This was the turning point of the war in the Pacific, and is considered one of the most important naval battles in U.S. History.

To preserve this treasured history, Midway Atoll was protected as part of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in the Pacific Ocean. After years of maintaining and treasuring the site, Midway is once again under attack, but not from a country across the ocean. Rather, the threat comes from our very own White House. President Trump has instructed Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to review all national monuments designated or expanded under the Clinton, Bush and Obama Administrations in an attempt to rescind or possibly eliminate them. No President in the history of our nation has ever tried to abolish national monuments. Just as we cannot allow the Battle of Midway to be forgotten, we must not let Midway Atoll be stripped of its safeguards.

Laysan albatross on Midway Atoll NWR, Papahanaumokuakea MNM | USFWS
Laysan albatross on Midway Atoll NWR, Papahanaumokuakea MNM | USFWS

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated the area as our nation’s first mixed (Natural and Cultural) World Heritage Site. Midway Atoll is a national wildlife refuge, hosting the world’s largest populations of Laysan albatross and black-footed albatross, and has been responsible for restoring the Laysan duck population. When the U.S. Navy left the atoll in 1996, the wildlife resources on the island made it clear the area should be managed as a national wildlife refuge by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. And indeed, over a century ago, President and renowned conservationist Teddy Roosevelt sought to stop the destruction of birds that breed on Midway, a mission that can only be fulfilled through Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument’s current designation. Throughout the monument, over 7,000 marine species are protected, and Midway Atoll also has immense scientific potential for better understanding the effects of colder waters on the growth, development, and ecology of coral reefs.

Nevertheless, President Trump has launched an unprecedented attack on the monument, and 26 others including five more within the National Wildlife Refuge System, by attempting to undermine the Antiquities Act, a law enacted in 1906 by President Teddy Roosevelt allowing a president to create national monuments to protect significant natural, cultural, or scientific features. In the mandatory review, an important consideration is whether the protected areas are “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, [or] other objects of historic or scientific interest.” Needless to say, Midway Atoll fulfills each of these criteria, and is a timeless symbol of American freedom, conservation, and prosperity.

Click here to take action: Protect Midway Atoll National Wildlife Message and Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument by preserving your marine national monuments today. Seventy-five years of history, thousands of wildlife species, and our American values depend on it.

Green sea turtles sunning themselves on the beach at Midway Atoll NWR, Papahanaumokuakea MNM | USFWS
Green sea turtles sunning themselves on the beach at Midway Atoll NWR, Papahanaumokuakea MNM | USFWS

Permanent link to this article: http://refugeassociation.org/2017/06/celebrating-the-75th-anniversary-of-the-battle-of-midway/

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