-I had many friends—too many friends. I say “too many” because having a lot of friends during war can be a painful thing. It is not like having friends here at home in peacetime. If you have a good buddy, grandchildren, do you not look forward to seeing him when each new day dawns? If you have many friends, your life is full. When you are young and are living in peace, it seems as if your friends will always be there with you.
It is different in war. Another friend is another person you might lose at any instant. Each new day, each minute, may be the last one when you will see your friend. That guy who shared a canteen of water with you, who teased you about your fear of snakes, or showed you pictures of his mother and father, can vanish in one moment as brief and shocking as a flash of lightning.-
This was a really cool book, but I might just think so because I love codes and ciphers. I read a very intense book on them last year, and it mentioned the Navajo code talkers briefly, and gave a short list of the code they used.
In World War II, lots of things were happening that I can’t tell you about because although I appreciate history and enjoy reading stories about it, I’m not a history person and I don’t actually know a whole lot. I can’t even tell you the years World War II happened. But one thing I DO know is that everybody was cracking everybody else’s codes which were being used to send messages full of valuable information. The Americans discovered that the Navajo Native Americans spoke a language that was very difficult to understand and learn to non-Navajos, so they began hiring them into the army as “code talkers.” Two Navajos would team up: one would listen to the radio and repeat the coded message out loud, while his companion wrote it down and translated it. They would then construct a new message, encode it, and send it back in their language.
The Navajos were invaluable during the war, but not only as code talkers ~ they also made incredibly tough soldiers. They were used to walking long distances while carrying a lot of weight (which was good because sometimes their radios weighed 80 pounds), they were resourceful and knew how to find nourishment, they knew not to scream in pain when they were injured in order to not give away their position to the enemy, and they were incredibly physically strong.
This book described the life of a code talker named Ned Begay, who went to an American school when he was young to learn English, as many Navajo children did. He then joined the Marines when he was fifteen (two years younger than he was supposed to) and helped a great deal in the war. The book explained the struggles Navajos had to endure in America; the white men believed they were stupid and unable to learn. But it also went on to explain how respected the Navajos were in the army because of their versatility and their code.
What I liked about this book was that it was written like an old Indian telling a story to his grandchildren. If I had read the book out loud, it wouldn’t have sounded like I was reading from a book. It would have sounded like I was telling a story from my life, and that was a really cool thing to read.
-It was important not to rush when there was something worthwhile to say.-
A lot of people speak without really thinking about what they’re saying. I used to do that back in fifth grade, but I realized I was doing it and I hated it, so I asked God to help me think about what I’m saying before I speak. (This is incredibly ironic to me now.) That’s something a lot of people SHOULD do, in my opinion.
But if you have something ACTUALLY worth saying, it’s all the more important that you use the right words to convey what you’re trying to say. You don’t want it to be taken the wrong way. And the cool thing is that if you have something TRULY worthwhile to say, you don’t have to be in a rush to say it. You have the time to stop and make sure the words are right first.
-All through Indian school we had been taught that white men knew everything. That day, for the first time, I realized several things. The first was that bilagáanaas are not born knowing everything. The second was that in many of the most important ways, white men are no different from Navajos. The third? That no matter who they are, people can always learn from each other.-