November 11, 2010

Codetalkers at the Stock Exchange

Navajo Code Talkers honored for WW II efforts

By Marisol BelloAs the numbers dwindle—fewer than 100 Code Talkers of the 400 trained by the U.S. military are believed to be alive—the Navajo veterans are being recognized. Today, Veterans Day, a group of them will ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange. New Mexico dedicated a 16-mile stretch of highway to them on Wednesday.

Now, 65 years after serving mostly in the Pacific, the men are trying to establish their legacy on the Navajo reservation in Arizona. Through a foundation, they are about to launch a $42 million fundraising campaign for a museum and veterans center.

"We are all old, and we want to see the result of our efforts," says Little, 86, a retired logger.

The museum has been more than 10 years in the making, says Willetto, 85. The group had the land but no money. Their efforts were boosted in 2008 with a grant of about $900,000 from the Navajo tribal government to help them form the foundation, design the project and conduct geological tests on the land.
Code Talkers honored in New York City

By Alysa LandrySurviving Code Talkers, now in their 80s or 90s, will participate Thursday in a national Veterans Day event in New York City. The men are guests of NativeOne Financial, an American Indian firm at the New York Stock Exchange.

The Code Talkers will be presented on the floor of the stock exchange prior to the annual Veterans Day parade.

"We have three Code Talkers scheduled to come out," said Dennis Smith, co-founder and director of NativeOne Financial. "We're hoping everyone is healthy and can make it out here."

Interest in the Code Talkers has climbed as the warriors have aged, leaving fewer of them to push for more publicity of their history. One such project is the Code Talkers museum and veterans center, a $42.6 million endeavor that would preserve the memories of these distinguished men.
Comment:  For more on the codetalkers, see Choctaw Codetalkers Documentary and How the Codetalkers Won the War. For more on Native contributions to the US military, see American Indians Fought and Bled for Nation that Fought Them and Indians in the Military.

Below:  "Frank Chee Willetto, pictured at the Gallup Cultural Center in New Mexico, is working to raise funds for a Code Talkers museum." (Rick M. Scibelli/USA Today)

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