What Americans Should Do on Memorial Day

James Jay Carafano
Wikimedia Commons

James Jay Carafano

History, Americas

Remember at least one hero and honor their sacrifice.

What Americans Should Do on Memorial Day

This Memorial Day put aside the politics and the shopping sprees. This day is about remembering one thing and one thing only: those who gave their lives in the service of their fellow Americans.

That’s actually a lot to take in. So many wars. So many causes. So many lives. It’s impossible to remember them all. But for those looking for a place to start, here’s one you can remember, even if you’ve never heard of him.

We’ve all heard of O’Hare, the nation’s busiest airport, site of some one million take-offs and landings every year. About eighty-three million passengers pass through its gates each year. Yet if you were to ask them where the name came from, few would have the slightest clue.

But Butch O’Hare was someone worth remembering—especially on Memorial Day.  

Let’s go back to February 20, 1942. On that date, Japanese pilots were chasing down the USS aircraft carrier Lexington and Task Force 11.

In World War II, a carrier task force had two means to defend against enemy attack planes: its anti-aircraft guns on deck and a CAP on top (a combat air patrol of fighters from its flight deck).

That day in February, the Lexington’s CAP circled the air above the task force, scanning for the Japanese or waiting for radar to spot incoming enemy aircraft and vector the fighters to intercept them before the attacking planes reached the task force.

When the first wave of Japanese planes approached, the combined defenses of Task Force 11 annihilated it. Not one of the enemy medium bombers reached the Lexington.

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