Historic Midway Atoll, A Place of War and Peace - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Historic Midway Atoll, A Place of War and Peace

Dirk Kempthorne Dirk Kempthorne

By Howard Dashefsky

MIDWAY ATOLL (KHNL) - 65 years ago it was the scene of a horrific battle as the Japanese attempted to capture Midway Island.

The U.S. won the battle that proved to be a turning point in World War II.

Today the tiny atoll that sits 12 hundred miles Northwest of Honolulu is one of the most pristine places on earth.

Home to as many as two million birds during the peak nesting season, Midway and it's surrounding atolls now make up the largest fully protected marine area in the world, thanks to a presidential signature.

The "Papa-hanau-mokua-kea Marine National Monument" is home to more than 7 thousand marine species.

A quarter of which are found no place else on earth.

By creating this marine national monument the United States government gave these Northwestern Hawaiian Islands the highest level of environmental protection"

"This is a place where nature rules and we are really the guests" said Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle.

"In hawaii you're walking and birds scurry, here the people are the ones that have to get out of the way they don't move. they're in the majority and this is their place" Lingle added.

With no more than a few dozen permanent residents, and a handful of volunteers on Midway at any given time, nature will continue to rule.

But the Governor says there are plans to open up the national monument to some guests , on a very limited basis.

"I don't think it should be opened up in a very big way because I don't the ecology can stand that kind of human impact. It's a magnificent and beautiful and unlike anywhere i've ever been before" the Governor said.

Today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife is committed to maintaining this tiny gem in the Pacific.

A 1200 acre atoll that has seen the worst, and the best of what man, and nature has to offer.

"This was the place of horrific violence, war like we'd never imagined" said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne.

"Today it's a place of serenity, tranquility, renewal that's good, that's hope and we'll learn from this and these species will be better off for that".

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