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Thread: Code Talkers to be immortalized
10-10-07, 07:42 AM #1
Code Talkers to be immortalized
Code Talkers to be immortalized
By Alysa Landry The Daily Times
Farmington Daily Times
Article Launched:10/10/2007 12:00:00 AM MDT
KIRTLAND — Sixty-five years ago they spoke a wartime code so complex it was never broken, but the 430 Navajo warriors known as the Code Talkers remain largely unrecognized.
More than a half-century after they fought in World War II, this group of Navajo Marines finally will have a place of honor among other veterans memorials.
The Navajo Nation Tribal Council voted last month to appropriate $200,000 to the Navajo Code Talkers Memorial Foundation to place a monument at Wesley Bolin Plaza, a memorial park in front of the Arizona State Capitol. The 8-foot bronze statue is a replica of the one standing in Window Rock, Ariz., and is expected to be in place by January.
"It's long overdue," said artist Oreland Joe, who designed the original statue in a studio near his Kirtland home. "There's now more awareness of the Native American acts of courage, and we finally have the chance to honor them in a three-dimensional form."
Joe is overseeing the casting and placement of the monument, which depicts a Code Talker on bent knees with a radio in his hand. Joe also is designing four plaques for the monument's base on which all of the Code Talkers' names — including the original 29 — and a brief history will be engraved. Identical plaques will be added to the Window Rock memorial.
The Code Talkers are credited for aiding America's cause from 1942 to 1945. They were made famous for helping the United States take Iwo Jima during World War II, but the recognition comes too late for many, said Michael Smith, Window Rock liaison for the National Code Talkers Association. Only about 70 Code Talkers are still living, he said.
"In reference to communications in war time, their achievements have never been matched," Smith said. "To use a native language to create a code and use that in battle and have it never broken or deciphered by any enemy is a remarkable achievement. Generals and commanders credit the Code Talkers for saving hundreds of lives."
The Navajo Code Talkers Memorial Foundation, under the direction of former Arizona state representative Sylvia Laughter, established the Window Rock memorial in 2004. Laughter sponsored legislation two years earlier that called for construction of two monuments to honor the Code Talkers, but funding came up short after the first was completed, she said.
The foundation petitioned the Tribal Council for the funds, and on the recommendation of Speaker Lawrence Morgan, the council voted last month to award the full amount.
"We need to make sure to educate all people about the contributions of our Native American warriors to this country," Morgan stated in a news release.
The second monument will stand among memorials to other groups of veterans and individuals who earned recognition for contributions at home or overseas. A Code Talkers memorial placed off the reservation will provide overdue recognition to a group of warriors that is often overlooked, Laughter said.
"They were such a significant group of people and they did something unique," she said. "When they were Code Talkers, it was a secret mission. When they came home, they never shared it with their families. Among the Native Americans, there are some things you don't talk about, like war. A lot of this is humble men who never saw it as anything significant other than doing their duty."
Laughter said after the monument is placed in Wesley Bolin Plaza, the foundation may consider placing a statue in Washington, D.C., to help the Code Talkers gain national recognition.
"It's unfortunate that it took so many years for the rest of the world to understand how significant their calling was," she said. "No matter how long it is, the most important thing is that we do recognize them and that their story is in the record."
Alysa Landry: email@example.com
IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
ONE PROUD MARINE
Once a Marine...Always a Marine
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