Today we honor the nearly 20 million living veterans who selflessly served our country in the Armed Forces. It is important to take a step back from our daily labors and pursuits to honor those who have put their lives on their line to uphold our American way of life. We implore our readers and customers to reach out to a veteran today and thank them for their service. Our gratitude is the least we can give, to those who have given much more. Veterans, we thank you.
John Ford had already won four Academy Awards by the time he enlisted in the United States Navy at the onset of WWII. Ford was instrumental in the formation of the Field Photographic Branch, a new unit that was charged with making wartime films. In the summer of 1942, he received orders to report to the US Naval Outpost on Midway Island (located midway between Hawaii and Japan) for the purpose of filming the life of the deployed sailors and marines. While getting footage from the passenger seat of a USN bomber, Ford and the pilot spotted dozens of Japanese Zeros on the horizon. Sensing that an attack was imminent, they returned to base and prepared for battle. Ford set up in the island's main power station as the Japanese attack rained down on the island. As bombs burst around him, Ford kept his camera rolling. At the end of the three day battle, Ford walked away with a three inch shrapnel wound on his arm, but also footage that would become his monumental film, The Battle of Midway (1942).
Ford on the set of They Were Expendable (1945), his film about a PT boat squadron in the Pacific. Ford's film was inspired by the brave soldiers he met on Midway Island. The film was shot on location in Key Biscayne, Florida.
The Battle of Midway played in theaters nationwide and was the first time American audiences were exposed to a full color glimpse of war. The film humanized the American servicemen as men that we know: our neighbors, brothers and sons. These were normal men doing extraordinary things. The Battle of Midway ended up being the largest naval victory in history and is regarded as a crucial turning point in the war and Ford's film brought the battle home to the American people. With the film, Ford pays tribute to the men who put their lives on the line for their country and with this post, we'd like to do the same for him. Please enjoy the film.
For further reading, refer to Five Came Back by Mark Harris.
Illustration by Yuko Shimizu
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