Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Monday, June 6, 2022

Memoir Monday... Can We Talk About It?

Code Talker, The first and only memoir by one of the original Navajo code talkers of WWII by Chester New...

His name wasn’t Chester Nez. That was the English name he was assigned in kindergarten. And in boarding school at Fort Defiance, he was punished for speaking his native language, as the teachers sought to rid him of his culture and traditions. But discrimination didn’t stop Chester from answering the call to defend his country after Pearl Harbor, for the Navajo have always been warriors, and his upbringing on a New Mexico reservation gave him the strength—both physical and mental—to excel as a marine.

During World War II, the Japanese had managed to crack every code the United States used. But when the Marines turned to its Navajo recruits to develop and implement a secret military language, they created the only unbroken code in modern warfare—and helped assure victory for the United States over Japan in the South Pacific.

I have always been fascinated by the WWII Code Talkers. It's such an amazing part of history and an important one. Imagine the dedication these young men had to fight for their country, the country that pretty much turned its back on the Indians and their culture, forcing them off their land. 

"On August 7, 1942, U.S. Marines of the 1st Marine Division hit the beaches of Guadalcanal, Tulagi, and the Florida islands in the first land offensive against Japan. Of the 11,000 Marines who landed, 15 were Navajo Code Talkers. This was to be their inaugural test in battle—three months after they’d been initially sworn in at Fort Wingate, New Mexico on May 4, 1942. In those three months, the code talkers went through basic training, underwent extensive instruction in radio operation and message transmittal, and developed and memorized a code that not even other native Navajo speakers could decipher."

Navajo Code Talkers Day was established by President Ronald Reagan on August 14, 1982. In 2014, Arizona passed legislation declaring every August 14 Navajo Code Talkers Day in Arizona. And every year around this time, there is a special Ham Radio Event commemorating the history of the Navajo Code Talkers. I had the privilege to talk to a relative of one of the Code Talkers on my ham radio last August. It was an honor and such an interesting conversation. I look forward to reading Code Talker by Chester Nez, published by Dutton Caliber, a boutique imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, in 2011. 

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