perspective: Function: noun Etymology: Middle French, probably modification of Old Italian prospettiva, from prospetto view, prospect, from Latin prospectus — a : the interrelation in which a subject or its parts are mentally viewed <places the issues in proper perspective>; also : point of view b : the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance.
For all of us who have some connection with the Navy – whether we wear the uniform, love someone in the service or just admire it from afar, history, especially naval history plays a central role in who we are. There wasn’t a day, for example, that when I stepped onto the flight deck of whatever carrier I happened to be flying off that I didn’t have a flash back to those who went before, be they air crew in jungle weight flight suits strapping into an F-4 bound for downtown Hanoi or khaki-clad aviators who formed that thin line that slugged it out with the superior forces of the kido butai at Midway.
History gives us perspective – of who we are and why we do what we do. It builds our culture and informs our ethos. It’s why we have traditions and customs. It serves as sign posts of progress — and warnings.
Indeed, we have much still to learn from the examples history affords us — and our own history is abundantly rich in that regard. We can build upon the experiences of those who went before as long as we understand the context and setting of those experiences.
In that context, the launch of the Naval History blog is an exciting prospect for me. We live in a time when the records formerly available to those willing to spend long hours plying through dusty stacks, delving through handwritten notes, drawings, yellowing photographs in the pursuit of revealing new insight, new perspectives if you will into the historical record is greater than ever before. Through the offices of organizations like the Naval History and Heritage Center which strives to make more original information available via the web, the field of researchers is expanded beyond those who are fortunate enough to reside near archival repositories. As one who has spent considerable time in official and personal research, I am particularly appreciative of that.
So, it will be much of that experience that I will bring to these pages — fruits of research in the operational and aviation archives tempered and flavored by my own experience over the course of three plus decades in uniform or working with the operational Navy. As the resident brown shoe, most – but not all, will focus on naval aviation. Given that 2011 is the 100th anniversary of US Naval Aviation, one of the regular features I will post will be highlights from that 100-year history. Let the journey begin.
One faces the future with one’s past.
– Pearl S. Buck