Was Admiral Nimitz justified in his decision to commit suicide? Is suicide morally wrong in all circumstances? Is suicide a matter of personal choice, morally permissible if a person freely opts to end her life for whatever reason?Discuss


The Suicide of Admiral Nimitz

The name of Chester W. Nimitz is legendary in the annals of naval warfare. In June 1942, Admiral Nimitz commanded the U.S. forces assigned to block a Japanese invasion of Midway. In the Battle of Midway, Nimitz’s fighter-bombers caught the Japanese fleet off guard, as its carrier aircraft were being refueled on deck. His pilots swooped in and sent to the bottom four of the Japanese carriers—Hiryu, Soryu, Akagi and Kaga—that had led the attack on Pearl Harbor. Midway broke the back of Japanese naval power and was among the most decisive battles in all of history.

Nimitz’s son and namesake, Chester W. Nimitz Jr., would rise to the same rank of admiral and become a hero of the Pacific war—a submarine commander who would sink a Japanese destroyer bearing down on his boat by firing torpedoes directly into its bow.

But Chester W. Nimitz Jr. achieved another kind of fame on Jan. 2. In a suicide pact with his 89- year-old wife, the 86-year-old hero ended his life with an overdose of sleeping pills.

Having lost 30 pounds from a stomach disorder, suffering from congestive heart failure and in constant back pain, the admiral had been determined to dictate the hour of his death. His wife, who suffered from osteoporosis so severe her bones were breaking, had gone blind. She had no desire to live without her husband.

So, as the devoted couple had spent their lives together, they decided to end their lives together. The admiral’s final order read: “Our decision was made over a considerable period of time and was not carried out in acute desperation. Nor is it the expression of a mental illness. We have consciously, rationally, deliberately and of our own free will taken measures to end our lives today because of the physical limitations on our quality of life placed upon us by age, failing vision, osteoporosis, back and painful orthopedic problems.”

According to The New York Times obituary, “The Nimitzes did not believe in any afterlife or God, and embraced no religion. But one of Mr. Nimitz’s three surviving sisters, Mary Aquinas, 70, is a Catholic nun. . . . Sister Mary said that she could not condone her brother’s decision to end his life, but that she felt sympathetic. ‘If you cannot see any value to suffering for yourself or others,’ she said, ‘Then maybe it does make sense to end your life.’”‡

Was Admiral Nimitz justified in his decision to commit suicide? Is suicide morally wrong in all circumstances? Is suicide a matter of personal choice, morally permissible if a person freely opts to end her life for whatever reason?

The post Was Admiral Nimitz justified in his decision to commit suicide? Is suicide morally wrong in all circumstances? Is suicide a matter of personal choice, morally permissible if a person freely opts to end her life for whatever reason?Discuss appeared first on Essay Quoll.



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