The Navajo Language: A Blessing In Disguise
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Homecoming

After the American bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki the Japanese surrendered.  Most of the code talkers returned home from the war at that time; some stayed for the occupation of Japan.  During the occupation of Japan was the last time the Navajo code was used.  Code talkers returning were told not to tell people what they did during the war.  They weren’t even allowed to tell their families.  Many code talkers went back to school to get a better education.  Some code talkers stayed in the Marines for years after that because they were treated equally. 

Code Talker Keith Morrison Little reflects on his homecoming: "The anticipation of going home was really overwhelming for everybody. I came back to the U.S. in November and was discharged later that month. I went back home and visited around, visited my friends and family, and went back to school. I graduated from high school in Oklahoma, and went for more schooling, and finally got a school teacher job. I taught Indian kids at an Indian school. When I left the reservation, the Navajo people were resisting sending their kids to school, because of how they were being treated, so there was a lot of teenage kids who were illiterate. The Bureau of Indian Affairs decided education was a priority, so they sent these people to a five-year program, and I was teaching in that program. I had kids there that never spoke a word of English. They learned English and learned something about a trade there. Later I left there and became a logging manager for a Navajo tribe. I am retired now."

Then in 1969 the Navajo Code was rendered obsolete by computerized codes.  So the Navajo Code was announced to the public.  Keith Little also reflects on his not being able to talk about the war: "We were told that the code was a top military secret. When we left the USMC we were told we were not to tell anybody what we had done, because the Navajo Code was still classified. We could not tell our kids what we had done in the Marines. In 1968 it finally was declassified, and the 4th Marine Division, at their annual reunion in Chicago, had the Code Talkers come to the reunion (I had a job and at that time I could not attend). Later on in the year, the Code Talkers got together in Window Rock and got medallions. Then we could finally work on what we had done. All the stories you hear now came from that time we were together. We finally got recognized by the President of the U.S., so that the guys who started the code, the initial guys recruited in 1942, they got gold congressional medals of honor. The others like myself, we knew nothing about what we were doing, we just wanted to fight the Japanese. We got recognized on November 11, 2001. We got silver medals."
Congressional Gold Medal
This is the Congressional Gold Medal.
It is the highest award that can be given to a United States citizen.

Courtesy Office of Senator Jeff Bingaman.
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