Navajo Code Talker Memorial
The Navajo nation has its headquarters in Window Rock, Arizona. We were spending the night in Gallup, New Mexico, which is just a few miles away. Late in the afternoon we decided to drive to Window Rock and maybe get a good sunset photo.
I wasn’t aware of the monument there to the Navajo code talkers. These men were recruited during WWII by the US Marines to operate the radios that were used for tactical communications on the battlefield. Because these were the days before voice encryption, the enemy could hear these transmissions. Transmitting in code words would be time consuming and error-prone, but something had to be done to guarantee secure communications.
Someone pointed out that the Navajo language is distinctively different from other Native American languages, and that almost all of the Navajo speakers in the world lived on the reservation. A group of Navajos was tasked with setting up a school to create modern words for military terms that weren’t in the Navajo language, and then they trained successive classes of Navajos for duty.
The project succeeded, and Navajos served in military units throughout WWII. None of their transmissions were ever deciphered by opposing troops. By now, only a few of these code talkers are still alive. This monument is a fine tribute to their service to their country.