Congressional Gold Medal for the Navajo Code Talkers
The back of the medal is inscribed with Navajo words that mean
"But in the late spring of 1940, as the Nazis pounded through Europe's defenses and British troops were pressed toward Dunkirk, the Navajo tribal council at Window Rock swore their allegiance and that of their 50,000 tribal members to the American government. They resolved that "the Navajo Indians stand ready, as they did in 1918, to aid and defend our Government and its institutions against all subversive and armed conflict.…"
"They still lacked voting rights. Arizona would not grant them the right to vote in state elections until 1948. New Mexico would wait until 1953, Utah until 1957. But they could vote in federal elections and their land and U.S. land were the same. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, they were attacked and the Navajo responded, ready to fight, some bringing guns from home to recruiting stations. As the Navajo volunteers and draftees headed for military service, little did they know that a strategic key to winning the island wars of the Pacific lay in their hands, in their culture, in their history." (http://www.navajocodetalkers.com/)
Over 5,000 Navajo enlisted in the military in WWII - at least 10% of the Nation. Men who could not vote, still held great allegiance to a country that was not always friendly to their exsistence. Of those 5,000, about 400 became Code Talkers. Little did they know the integral part of the war across the Pacific that they would become. Seven Code Talkers were killed in action.
To be a Code Talker, they had to be fluent in English and Navajo, finished the 10th grade, complete Boot Camp and pass proficiency examinations. The original 29 Code Talkers invented the code - assigning Navajo words to military terms - while at Camp Pendelton.
The Code was classified until 1968. In 2001, the original Code Talkers, or their family members, were presented with the Congressional Gold Medal. The others were presented with the Congressional Silver Medal. The medal was awarded because the work of the Code Talkers "greatly assisted in saving countless lives and hastening the end of World War II in the Pacific."
There are Marines who fought at Iwo Jima that believe that the battle would never have been won without the Navajo Code Talkers.
Their story is inspiring. To read more: