Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Navajo Code Talkers- A Study for May

May, 1942.  World War II.  An amazing group of 29 men were gathered for a highly classified mission.  They were to develop an indecipherable code that not even the best Japanese code breakers could crack.

Who were these men?  How were they discovered?  What was their code?  We're on a homeschooling quest to find out more about these elite dedicated men and their important role in American history.

In the early part of 1942 America had only been involved in WWII for a couple of months.  Message transmissions between US and Ally forces were consistently intercepted and deciphered by the Japanese causing loss of life and failed missions.  The US needed a foolproof  code, but where and how could one be developed?

A son of a missionary, by the name of Phillip Johnston learned of the situation.  He had been raised on the Navajo reservation and was one of only a few outsiders who knew the native language.  This language was never written so there was no record of it for outsiders.  Johnston proposed using the Navajo language as a code and presented his idea to military officials.  The Navajo test program was born.

Today we read The Unbreakable Code by Sara Hoagland Hunter.  It's a beautifully illustrated (done by Julia Miner) picture book for children. It tells the story of one Navajo code talker.  The grandfather, telling the story, shares with his grandson how he was sent away to government schools and was not allowed to use his unique, native language.  He must only speak English.  If he didn't he was made to chew on squares of soap.  (My own grandmother was sent away to a government school for Native Americans.  I'm sure she received similar treatment.)

At the age of 17, he heard of a request for young, healthy Navajo men to join the Marines for a special assignment.  He was under age, but there was no birth records on the reservation so he went. 

This special assignment was the top secret Navajo code talkers mission.  The story continues with the training and then duty of these elite personnel.  It tells the vital role the code talkers played in the invasion of Iwo Jima.

By the end of the story the grandson asked his grandfather,
"But why did you leave in the first place?"
His grandfather lifted him gently onto the horse.  "The answer to that is in the code," he said.  "The code name for America was 'Our Mother.'  You fight for what you love.  You fight for what is yours."
At this point of the book, I was in tears.  The kids were trying to fan me and asking why I was crying.  The words of the grandfather were so powerful to me.
"You fight for what you love.  You fight for what is yours."
As I think on these words, those things I'd fight for...God, family, country, honor.

This book was given to us by my mom.  She met some of these amazing men who developed the only unbreakable code in American history.  Our book is signed by some of these heroes.  What a treasure!!  Thanks Mom!

We will continue to learn more about the Navajo Code Talkers.  They have a great website at http://www.navajocodetalkers.org/  On the site you can see photos of the heroes.  Some of these men signed our book.  What an amazing story they have to share!

"You fight for what you love. You fight for what is yours."

Great words to ponder.

1 comment:

Kyla said...

I couldn't agree with you more, these men were amazing! I was in awe when I learned what they had done. What a treasure to have with that book=)