Patrick J. Buchanan "The Sad Suicide of Admiral Nimitz," WorldNetDaily, 18, January 2002.

Patrick J. Buchanan “The Sad Suicide of Admiral Nimitz,” WorldNetDaily, 18, January 2002.

The following is an excerpt from: Patrick J. Buchanan “The Sad Suicide of Admiral Nimitz,” WorldNetDaily, 18, January 2002.

Read through the excerpt and answer the questions that follow.


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? Offer reasons for your answers. Below I have mentioned a

couple of ideas from philosophers we have read that are relevant to the question.

Kant argued that suicide is not permissible because it violates the categorical imperative.

Kant thought their maxim must be:

“from self-love I make as my principle to shorten my life when its continued duration threatens more evil than it promises satisfaction”

Kant Argued: “One sees at once a contradiction in a system of nature whose law would destroy life by means of the very same feelings that acts so as to stimulate

furtherance of life, and hence there could be no existence as a system of nature.” -Kant

Brock wrote that they argument for euthanasia rests on among other things a patient’s right of self-determination.

He writes, “For many patients near death, maintaining the quality of one’s life, avoiding great suffering, maintaining one’s dignity, and insuring that others remember

us as we wish them to become of paramount importance and outweigh merely extending one’s life.” Might this also apply in the case of suicide?


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