I suppose it was the scrapbooker in me that made the story hit home. It was about thirteen Navajo Code Talkers who will be honored in this year's Veteran's Day Parade in New York City. Thirteen, out of the 50 or so believed to be still living, who will remind the world of their contributions during World War II.
There were 400 or so of them originally...Native Americans who used their Navajo language to communicate strategic information about the enemy in key battles of the war. Their native tongue was complex to an outsider and as a result, it was an effective code that was never broken. They were credited with saving countless American lives and playing a pivotal role in some of the most important battles. At Iwo Jima, for instance, they exchanged over 800 messages during the first two days, all without error, and the commanders proclaimed the Marines could not have taken Iwo Jima without them.
Their story has not been widely told, in part because they were sworn to secrecy for years. But also because the men and women who fought during that war didn't talk much about their experiences. Joining the service and going off to fight was what you did, and when it was over you came home and got on with your life. But the Code Talkers have realized their story is unique and as their numbers dwindle, they worry about who will tell their story after they're gone.
I agree...but every veteran's story is unique and important and deserves to be told. He or she has made significant sacrifices to protect the freedoms we all enjoy and we owe them a debt of gratitude. Perhaps more importantly, however, when we hear the stories of what our loved ones experienced, we have a greater appreciation for how they were shaped by those events.
So this Veteran's Day ask your father, brother or grandfather...or whatever military loved one you have...to share the stories of their time in the service as a way to honor them on this day set aside for that purpose. And so you'll know their stories. Because when they're gone, who will tell their stories if you don't?