Posted by Tom Bauer on May 24th 2020
Heroes Not Forgotten…
A Special Tribute in this Time of COVID-19.
At Imbue Botanicals, we’ve always been thankful for our Veterans and the sacrifices they’ve made to ensure our freedom and our way of life. From almost the inception of the company, we’ve offered veteran’s discount and written about some of more forgotten veterans and the contributions they have made.
Memorial Day is the holiday set aside for honoring and mourning members of the military who died in service to our country. We remember and commemorate the selfless contributions, unwavering dedication and gallant sacrifices of all veterans. But with covid-19 ravaging many of our Tribal Nations, we could think of no more deserving group to pay homage to those for whom history has not always been forthcoming – the Code Talkers. As we acknowledge their great and noble contributions to multiple war efforts and victories they and their Nations have made, let us be mindful of the uniqueness of their service and their determination born of innocence and devotion, and ultimately heroism.
In wartime, the need to communicate effectively without the enemy knowing is vital. But most codes can be broken, jeopardizing that communication. So in effort to create an unbreakable code, a nation turned to Native Americans whose language was so distinct and unknown, it could not be broken.
With respect to the Navajo, we recruited what can only be described as children to execute this task. It was an innocence and a purity of spirit best expressed by one of the original Navajo code talkers: “We were kids, really, just kids. We didn’t even know if we were citizens. We only knew we wanted to be part of the big war and we thought we could help. And when we came home, no one knew what we had done and we were forbidden to talk about it.”
Oaths of secrecy and government classifications precluded awareness of these extraordinary contributions for decades. But the years marched on, as they do, and seasons changed and eventually the details came to light about the importance and extent of the contribution made, and finally brought long-awaited recognition for so many:
- The Choctaw warriors who, in the sunset days of WWI, served in the 36th Infantry Division and used their language in code to support the American Expeditionary Forces, thereby turning the tide in the Argonne Offensive and giving superiority to the Allies.
- The fourteen Comanche code talkers who took part in the Normandy Invasion and began transmitting messages shortly after they landed on Utah Beach, their service unrecognized until, finally, they were awarded the National Order of Merit by the French Government in 1989.
- The Cree who fought alongside the Canadian Armed Forces in WWII and whose contributions went unacknowledged and unappreciated into the annals of history.
- The Meskwaki who sent twenty-seven men, sixteen percent of their entire Iowa population, to enlist in the Army in WWII and the eight who used their native Fox language in code in North Africa.
- The Seminole, Creek, Assiniboine and Mohawk, the Lakota, Hopi, Tlingit and Crow who were finally recognized, along with the other tribal nations, for their valor and extraordinary contributions in The Code Talkers Recognition Act signed into law by President George W. Bush on November 15, 2008.
- And perhaps the best known, the bilingual Navajo speakers who were recruited by the United States Marine Corps to serve in communication units during WWII and had an enormous impact on the Allied victory in the Pacific Theatre. They did it, as code talker Albert Smith said ‘out of a responsibility to defend Mother Earth.’ The original twenty-nine Navajo recruits developed a highly complex Navajo Codebook when they entered Camp Pendleton in May of 1942. In what can only be described as an extraordinary feat, six Navajo code talkers worked without sleep for the first two days of the Battle of Iwo Jima. The Marines could not have captured the island from the Imperial Japanese without the skill, speed and accuracy of the Navajo code talkers as they received, translated and sent over 800 messages, all without a single error.
Only with declassification of operations decades later in 1968 did the Navajo code talkers receive recognition. Their contributions and dedication continued through Korea and Vietnam and, to this day, it is the only spoken military code never to have been broken. Their legacy with the United States Marine Corps is commemorated by the Marine’s Hymn sung in the Navajo language by Code Talker Bill Toledo (available on youtube and we encourage you to watch it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2XhFhHVaJs )
And so today we pay tribute to the Native warriors who, shunning praise and acclaim fought valiantly and selflessly on the field and in the battleground of language and linguistics to help bring about significant victories for the United States.
And we salute the men of vision and opportunity, like Col. Alfred Wainwright Bloor who recognized the potential of the Choctaw language in confounding the Germans and Philip Johnston who, as a missionary child on the Navajo Nation and later a military man, heard the infinite tactical possibilities in the uniqueness of Navajo language and whose foresight and understanding of this culture of strength encouraged warriors to give voice and declaration in service to their country.
To all of these, our Native Americans, and all our Veterans everywhere, we thank you for service and dedication beyond words, for the enormity of your sacrifice, and for the realization of all of our freedom.
With all our best,