Published August 21, 2016
WINDOW ROCK – Close to 200 Young Marines representing 24 units, ten states and all six divisions traveled to Window Rock, Arizona, to be part of Navajo Code Talkers Day on Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016.
“This is an event that the Young Marines and the Navajo Code Talkers look forward to every year,” said Brenda McNulty, Young Marines event coordinator. “Our partnership between the descendants of the Navajo Code Talkers and the Young Marines has strengthened year after year since 2006. It is a collaborative effort in which both parties create a successful event for everyone to enjoy.”
The Young Marines participated for three days – Aug. 12, 13 and 14 – acting as escorts for veterans among many other duties. Every year since 2006, Young Marines from across the country gather in Window Rock, AZ, to honor and give praise to veterans and to the Navajo Code Talkers from WWII. The Navajo Nation has a large population of veterans of all branches.
“Just being around these special veterans made us feel as though we were able to take a step back in time,” said Bill Davis, national executive director and CEO of the Young Marines. “The Young Marines are assuring the legacy of these very special veterans. They will not be forgotten.”
The Navajo Nation Veteran’s Memorial Park is significant, because it was designed and built by the Navajo. It is their “living” Veterans’ Memorial. The idea for the memorial evolved from a group of Native Vietnam Veterans, Navajo Code Talkers and culturally important, Navajo medicine men.
The park has many symbolic structures: a circular path outlining the four cardinal directions and 16 angled steel pillars with the names of war veterans. In addition, there is a healing sanctuary that is used for reflection and solitude, and it features a fountain made of sandstone.
According to Brenda McNulty, it’s rare to meet people who have had such an impact on others’ lives. The men are more than just WWII heroes. The Navajo Code Talkers are more regarded in the Young Marine’s eyes than any sports star or celebrity.
“The Young Marines understand them, the Young Marines appreciate them and the Young Marines learn from them,” McNulty said.
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