The Navajo Language: A Blessing In Disguise
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America Goes to War

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and America officially joined World War II, "You should have seen the big long line at the places where they recruit into the service. Everybody wanted to join the service," says Code Talker Joe Kellwood. "You ask me why I joined the Marines -- my sister was kid of getting scared because [of] the way these enemies were doing things, torture.  I just let her know that I was going to get training to meet the enemy, and that made her cry."

Code Talker Keith Little was in the 10th grade at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack.  He remembers, "I felt that I had to enlist, I had to do something. It was a feeling of retaliation. I think that was the underlying reason I enlisted in the Marine Corps."

Why would he be willing to serve in the U.S. armed forces when his people had been mistreated by the American government?  "I call it 'brainwashing' in the schools – they were trying to civilize us to be ordinary American citizens, so being patriotic was a main priority," he says. "But in that Christian school we must have had the right teacher (laughter), because they said we Indians were really the first people in America!"

"A lot of people say, 'Why did you have to go fight for the U.S. when they treated you so bad?' Well, they might have mistreated my ancestors, our people, imprisoned them, but they did let us come back to our land, our Mother. America was our land. Supposing the Japanese came to the mainland? They could have come to our land. Patriotism, being an American Indian, I guess that’s it. This land is where we live, where our animals are, where our people are."
Uncle Sam's "I Want You For U.S. Army" picture
This is a picture of Uncle Sam. Pictures such as these were used to encourage U.S. citizens to enlist for the army.

This famous painting was created by James Montgomery Flagg in 1916.
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