Sandy Hook

Sandy Hook

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Will Texas History Books Mention These Vets?

Staff Sgt. Ysmael R. Villegas

Riverside, California, South Pacific WW II

In 1997 the Marine Corps honored the nation's 39 Latino Medal of Honor recipients, 13 of whom were Marines.

 
 
 

World War II caused a tremendous labor shortage. When the military forces called for recruits, Mexican Americans responded in great number and went on to serve with distinction. Some 350,000 Chicanos served in the armed services and won 17 medals of honor.
 
The Tuskegee Airmen were dedicated, determined young men who enlisted to become America's first black military airmen, at a time when there were many people who thought that black men lacked intelligence, skill, courage and patriotism.
 
 

 
Known as Navajo Code Talkers, they were young Navajo men who transmitted secret communications on the battlefields of WWII. At a time when America's best cryptographers were falling short, these modest sheepherders and farmers were able to fashion the most ingenious and successful code in military history. They drew upon their proud warrior tradition to brave the dense jungles of Guadalcanal and the exposed beachheads of Iwo Jima. Serving with distinction in every major engagement of the Pacific theater from 1942-1945, their unbreakable code played a pivotal role in saving countless lives and hastening the war's end.

And these were the Choctaw Code Talkers in World War I.

30 comments:

  1. Very good.. I love seeing these heroes who are mostly left out of all the history books.

    We should honor and respect them all.. no matter the color, creed, belief or sexual orientation.

    As they say.. in a foxhole there is no difference.

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  2. Thank you Leslie. I had no idea about the Choctaw code talkers.

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  3. Great post Leslie! See, this is the hypocrisy of Rand Paul and others who believe his rhetoric. Blacks could go to war with honor and dignity, but could not eat, drink, pee, learn, ride, etc...with the white man. This inequality and injustice was righted by the Civil Rights Act and this country better not reverse one word of it!

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  4. After the war, Mexican-American veterans formed LULAC, the League of United Latin American Citizens. It became the Hispanic version of the NAACP and to this day is a force in at least Texas politics.

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  5. Thanks everyone. I was in too big a hurry and really didn't do credit to these people and their stories. Will explore the matter further as the year goes by. Someone's got to educate those poor kids in Tex-ass.

    I had never heard of the Choctaw code talkers either until I came across this wonderful video.

    Tim - thanks for stopping by. I reviewed your blog and gave it a thumbs up - also added it to my roll.

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  6. There was a film several years back about the code talkers. Albeit, it was more about the sorehead sergeant who was in charge of them than the code talkers themselves.

    Great post.

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  7. 25% of our active duty military members are ethnic minorities. Look for that number to increase during this recession. This is the best Memorial Day post I've read so far; good, good for you.

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  8. jadeje: Was that the movie staring Nicholas Cage of all people? PBS did a 2-part series that was quite good. Interesting that Ken Burns would produce a documentary on war and not include Hispanics.

    Nance: Thanks for the info and the compliment. It means a lot.

    dmarks: I think the main point of this post is to point out that contrary to what people like the majority of the Texas School Board may think, there are many members of various ethnic groups who have made huge and important sacrifices to our war efforts. Even though there have been museums, memorials and monuments since the beginning of time dedicated to individuals, battles and battalions, I don't believe that is the issue here.

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  9. we forgot how much minorities have contributed to the greatness of the country - take them out of the mix and you are left with.........

    all people who contribute should be honored

    great post

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  10. What an excellent reminder of the great diversity of those who have served our country in uniform. I hope one day soon greater recognition for gays who are serving with distinction will come about as well.

    As for your question about Texas history books, nothing would surprise me at this point.

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  11. Great post Leslie. We'll remember these fine men today. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

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  12. Good question since what is approved for history books in Texas greatly effects the rest of the country. What of My Lai? What of Lt. Calley? What of helicopter pilot Hugh Thompson Jr. who saved some of the Vietnamese from being killed? I just watched American Experience: The My Lai Massacre on public television which is why this is on my mind.

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  13. The many unsung heroes of any war are the shame of historians who fail to mention them. With Texas sanitizing and rewriting history in their textbooks I wonder if future generations will even know about these heroes?

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  14. dmarks: I didn't see the links. I got to this part which kind of raised my ire:

    "I agree with the curator about the mythologizing of the codetalkers. They did a great job, but did they really win the war in the Pacific theater?"

    I don't think anyone has claimed that they won the war but they did prevent the deaths of untold
    thousands. But the bombs took care of that. However this is a good site for further exploration.

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  15. Everyone: I do appreciate the comments. It just occurred to me that it's people like those on the Texas School Board who are erasing the contributions minorities have made to our country's welfare. I guess if you're not WASP, you don't deserve the recognition.

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  16. tnlib: Sorry you think I was trying to divert the issue/topic again.

    My link to the codetalker discussion was intended to add some information. Contained in the Newzpaper Rock discussions are mentions of how the Nic Cage movie short-changes the real history by focusing on Cage instead of the Natives.

    This fits in with "...there are many members of various ethnic groups who have made huge and important sacrifices to our war efforts.", I think.

    (This being said, there are probably better links at Newspaper Rock on the codetalkers, and also many others on the achievements of Native veterans. That site is a goldmine on Native issues.)

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  17. dmarks: Like I said, I mistakenly got sidetracked by a single comment, which was my mistake, but I did read the full article. And, as I said, this is an excellent site which I have bookmarked and will explore further as time allows. I'm no expert by any means but have always been interested in the Navajo Code Talkers and, now that I've run across them, the Choctaws during WWI.

    I didn't have time to read further about Red Horse's movie. Do you know if it was ever produced? I did see an excellent 2-part series on PBS a couple of years ago and wonder if there is a connection.

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  18. dmarks: I just checked PBS and the documentary they did was Red-Horse's film - called True Whispers: The Story of the Navajo Code Talkers. I found it utterly fascinaing and remember thinking it was one hell of a documentary. I wish they'd repeat it.

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  19. I knew about the Navajo codetalkers in WWII, but had no idea that Choctaw codetalkers helped win WWI. Excellent post, Leslie.

    How WTF, they help win two world wars with unbreakable codes, then have their language beaten out of them. The irony is absolutely astounding, and not in a good way.

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  20. Bee: I thought the Navajo language was outlawed long before WWII, but I can't find anything to verify. I do know that "Diné bizaad" is the most spoken of all the Native American tribes.

    RC: I was referring to the "New" textbook restrictions being put into place by those wing-nuts you have down there in Texas. ; )

    I'm deleting your comment. I don't care for ethnic jokes, regardless of where they come from. I'm sorry but I just don't want to see them on my blog. I'm sure you'll understand.

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  21. I don't know of any specific national directive to ban the use of Native American languages. I would not be surprised if there was, though.

    I do know that boarding schools severely punished NA children for using these languages.

    (Sorry for going afield again...)

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  22. Apparently there were two different phases when Navajo children were forbidden to speak Dine.

    http://homepage.mac.com/thgewecke/navlit.html

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  23. Thank you for this post, tnlib.

    The following Web site has kept up with casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan through the years. (Click on Opration Iraqi Freedom at top.) The site has listed the names of U.S. troops killed, and as you go down the list, you don’t find a excessive number of seemingly WASP names. You do find a large number of Hispanic names. LINK:

    http://www.icasualties.org/

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  24. BJ: Thanks for the link. Very telling.

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  25. Excellent, Leslie. These heroes will surely be written out of Teabuggered Textbooks.

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  26. No doubt that they will be which is what is so sad.

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  27. Not exactly apropos to this post, but an interesting read on the Texas Textbook Massacre:

    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/feature/2010/05/31/texas_textbooks_confederacy?source=newsletter

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