End of a Strenuous Life

A switch flicked. The microphone in the Secretary of the Navy's office came alive. Along the cavernous halls of the sprawling ten-winged Navy Building, up & down the corridors of the Navy Annex across the Potomac, through all the temporary Navy buildings cluttering the Mall, boomed the taut voice of Under Secretary James V. Forrestal: It is with profound regret that I announce to the naval service the death of the Secretary of the Navy.

Thus last week the 30,000 Washington-based Navy personnel heard of the death of Secretary William Franklin Knox. The nation — which had been given but...