© 2024 WNIJ and WNIU
Northern Public Radio
801 N 1st St.
DeKalb, IL 60115
Northern Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Perspective: Take Pride In Alan Turing

Antoine Taveneaux
via Wikimedia
Statue of Alan Turing, at Bletchley Park

Last week, we celebrated the seventy-fifth anniversary of the D-Day invasion. But June is also the month of another anniversary -- one for an individual who was just as important to the Allied victory in Europe.

One of the things that made the German Wehrmacht so successful in the early stages of the Second World War was Enigma -- a cryptographic device that generated secret code that was said to be unbreakable. And one of the important turning points in war was when a group of British and Polish mathematicians working together in Bletchley Park broke that code, giving the allied command direct access to Nazi communications.

The leader of that code-breaking effort was Alan Turing, a brilliant British mathematician who is also credited with introducing many of the innovations central to the invention of the digital computer. But unlike the generals, the paratroopers and the soldiers at Normandy, Turing was not celebrated as a hero.

In fact, he was vilified for his homosexuality and sentenced to inhumane criminal punishment by his own government. Rather than face this humiliation, Turing tragically took his own life on the evening of June 7, 1954.

So this June -- a month that is also recognized as LGBTQ Pride month -- we need to take pride in the man, the work, and the lasting contributions of Alan Turing. And we need to commit ourselves to a present and a future where the bigotry and prejudice suffered by Turing does not happen to anyone ever again.

I’m David Gunkel, and that’s my perspective.

Related Stories