Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Thank You for Your Service: Honoring Veterans

"Honoring the sacrifices many have made for our country in the name of freedom and democracy is the very foundation of Veterans Day."

-- Charles B. Rangel

My great uncle Nat was a veteran of World War II.  He was a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne and served in Europe.  Many years later, I made a documentary about his life; most of it is an interview with him about his service during the war.  Like so many others of that generation, Uncle Nat has passed away.  This post is written to honor him and all veterans.

Have you heard of the Navajo Code Talkers?  They were a group of DinĂ© (Navajo) Marine Corps soldiers recruited in World War II who created a code based on their language.  The code was used to transmit messages throughout the Pacific theater.  The code was never broken by the Japanese and contributed greatly to the Allied victory.

Sign for Navajo Code Talkers Museum in Kayenta, AZ
Visiting the former location of the museum; source: The ESL Nexus

In 2004, when I was visiting the Navajo Nation in Arizona with my parents, we stopped for lunch at a fast-food restaurant in Kayenta.  It wasn’t a planned stop but when I saw a sign advertising a museum about the Navajo code talkers, I just had to see it.  Although it was weird to see a museum in a Burger King, the exhibit itself was fascinating.  Since my visit, the museum has moved to a larger, stand-alone building in Tuba city, Arizona.

But the DinĂ© weren’t the only indigenous people who created codes based on their language.  Many others did as well, including First Nations Cree soldiers from Canada who were sent to the U.S. to develop a code based on their language.  Not as much has been written about the work of soldiers from other indigenous groups but just the other day, I came across a short movie about a Cree soldier who helped develop the Cree code.  It’s an interview with his surviving brothers and is interspersed with period images from the wartime effort.  It's a great resource for teaching about Veterans Day.

Image showing title of Cree Code Talker movie
Available on National Geographic's Short Film Showcase; source: National Geographic

If you’re looking for materials to help teach your ELLs about Veterans Day, these resources that present 20 vocabulary words about Veterans Day in fun and engaging ways may be of interest.

Use this resource to help teach about Veterans Day
Click HERE for more info; source: The ESL Nexus

Use this resource to help teach about Veterans Day
Click HERE for more info; source: The ESL Nexus

Many thanks to all veterans -- we very much appreciate your service!

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