Crownpoint, NM – On November 21, 2017, student veterans at Navajo Technical University were honored for their service with a special luncheon that paid tribute to the Navajo Code Talkers. The university administration came together for the event, “Operation: Appreciation,” which acknowledged 18 students and 9 faculty and staff members who served in all branches of the military. Alongside them were four of the 13 remaining Navajo Code Talkers, who were in attendance to receive special recognition and to share the history and importance of their efforts during World War II.
“It was a memorable occasion for all the veterans who were in attendance. We embrace them and owe them much gratitude for what they have done for our country,” said Daniel Vandever, Communications Director at NTU. “We’re aiming to leverage this event to develop a veterans resource center on campus that will keep our students connected, and most importantly stay active with special events and activities we sponsor for them.”
At the ceremony, Navajo Code Talker Association President, Peter McDonald Sr., spoke about the importance and the role of the Navajo language in World War II. He discussed how the Navajo language distinguishes the Navajo people and that it must continue to be spoken and learned. Thomas H. Begay also sang the Marine hymn in the Navajo language and displayed an oral history video on his experience as a Code Talker. Navajo Code Talkers who also attended the special occasion were Joe Vandever, Sr. and Alfred Newman.
“This was an impressive event and a most supportive gesture, NTU continues to demonstrate its appreciation for veterans,” said Ron Begay, Marine Corps Veteran and Safety Officer at Navajo Technical University “The Navajo Code Talkers have a special place in our history, and here on the Navajo Nation they represent the valor of our culture and heritage.”
Photographer Kenji Kawano displayed photographs of the Navajo Code Talkers in a walkthrough photo gallery as an added value to the event. Attendees were given a glimpse of photographs that were taken over the last several decades. The four Code Talkers who attended the ceremony received a blanket and bow guard as a special recognition. Student veterans were given a certificate and an Amazon Fire Tablet, while the staff veterans were given a plaque.
Operation: Appreciation was held in conjunction with events that were held on campus to celebrate Indigenous Cultural Heritage Month. The university scheduled numerous activities and events that brought awareness and recognition of the diverse, indigenous cultures from around the world.
For more information about Operation: Appreciation and the events at NTU contact the Communications Department at firstname.lastname@example.org