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We are between Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day. The first is a minor holiday intended to honor those serving in our military. The second is a major federal holiday and is intended to commemorate our honored war dead. A recent conversation with a younger veteran led to talk of his grandfathers’ service in World War II, and that in turn led to a broader reflection on a seldom remembered or only partially understood group of Americans in the two world wars.
The younger veteran’s Hopi grandfather was a tank mechanic. His Navaho grandfather was a code talker in the Marine Corps. As we talked, I mentioned recently learning of the original WWI code talkers, a small team of Choctaw Indians in the American Expeditionary Forces. The Native American veteran replied that there were Hopi and other tribes also used as code talkers in WWII. It is just that the Navajos were the largest group and became the center of historical attention.More