On November 26, 2013, the Washington Redskins and the San Francisco 49ers played a Monday Night Football game. At halftime, the Washington Redskins honored four World War II United States Marines. These Marines were Native Americans and Navajo “Code Talkers.” Dan Snyder, the owner of the Washington Redskins, was observing the NFL’s Salute to Service Month as well as Native American Heritage Month. Choosing to honor the “Code Talkers” was a great choice as they qualified both ways. They served as U.S. Marines and were Native Americans.
Why were the Navajo “Code Talkers” considered heroes? These United States Marines were not only brave, courageous warriors but also used their native language to create a code and transmit communications. The oral military code that they developed was the only code never broken by an enemy. They were a key part of victories in the Pacific Theater. Other tribes also were “Code Talkers” and helped win the war against Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany. The very first Native American “Code Talkers” used their native language as an unbreakable code in World War I by the Choctaw tribe serving in the U.S. Army and U.S. Marines.
To fully appreciate these American heroes and all they went through, one needs to research the Pacific Theater in World War II. The Marines dealt with extreme heat, as well as a fanatical, deadly Japanese foe that hid in tunnels, laid booby traps and had concrete fortified cave entrances. They believed it was an honor to die for the Emperor of Japan.
It is ironic that the language of the Native Americans was discouraged as they were forced to learn and speak English, but it was their language that saved the world from Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Can you imagine a world ruled by the “Master Race” Nazi Germany and all of Asia ruled by tyrannical Japanese Emperors? America occupied by German troops? We know that Adolf Hitler ordered the deaths of over 6 million Jews. Germany was also trying to make the atom bomb but America made it first.
Fortunately, the enemy lost and we won. One of the reasons the U.S.A. and the Allied forces won World War II was the unbreakable codes created, memorized and used orally between Native Americans transmitting and receiving vital communications.
We can be proud that our Washington Redskins honored these great Americans, the Navajo “Code Talkers.” More proof that the logo and name of our team is one of respect for Native Americans and their courage, character, honor and fighting spirit. In the words of famous Head Coach George Allen when speaking to his team in 1971, “You are in the nation’s capital. The capital of the United States of America and you represent Washington, D.C. That is SPECIAL.” He also consulted with and got approval from Native American chiefs, Blackfoot Nation for our logo, the face on the helmet. It’s not stupid looking like the Cleveland Indians, but respectful. Allen said, “That face shows strength, honor, courage and a fighting spirit.”
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