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Native American Heritage Month: Commemoration of Corps Pride

By Lance Cpl. AaRron Smith, Marine Corps Base Quantico CommStrat | Marine Corps Base Quantico | November 21, 2018

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Marines all over the world gather around the dinner table for food, stories, and laughter as they give thanks to their country and loved ones this holiday season. In November, as the nation honors Native American Heritage month, a celebration of rich and diverse cultures and traditions, the Marine Corps commemorates and acknowledges Native Americans and their contributions to its success.

Established in 1990, President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating the month of November as Native American Indian Heritage month, commonly referred to as Native American Heritage month.

This commemorative month aims to provide a platform for natives of the United States to share their culture, traditions, music, crafts, dance, and concepts of life. It is also a time to remember the few and proud Native American Marines who use their little known-language as a means of communication in time of war, The Navajo Code Talkers.

The Cherokee and Choctaw tribes pioneered code talkers during World War l. The title is strongly associated with Navajo speakers, who were recruited during World War ll to serve their country in communication units Corps-wide.

Marine Corps Network Operations and Security Command (MCNOSC), now Marine Corps Cyberspace Operations Group, headquartered at Marine Corps Base Quantico, recognized the significance of their unique ability during wartime and named its newly constructed headquarters building Code Talkers Hall, May 17, 2007. In attendance were several World War II Navajo Code Talkers, who developed a system of coded communications based on their native language that was never broken by the Japanese.

“It is befitting that a building housing MCNOSC will be named after the Code Talkers,” said Brig. Gen. George J. Allen, Chief Information Officer of the Marine Corps. Allen praised the Code Talkers during the ceremony for developing a “much faster means of communication.


The history of native ancestry in the Corps motivated Pfc. David Barrett, a Navajo from Warsaw, Indiana and warehouse clerk with CLR-25 HQ, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, to become a better Marine and moreover, a better person, he said.

“My grandfather and uncle joined the Marines to continue the warrior tradition the original code talkers started,” said Barrett,  “I look up to all of them, they’re primarily why I joined the Marine Corps -- to serve my country -- instead of another branch.”

“I joined to serve the country I love and to take more pride in myself,” said Barrett with enthusiasm. He continued to explain the benefits the Corps taught them. “My family always carried themselves well and the Marine Corps did that for them.”

After his enlistment, Barrett plans on going to school to become an attorney just like his father, he said.

“It's a challenging occupation, but the benefits of being my own boss and financial stability outweigh that.”

Although he has not lived on a reservation since childhood, he still remains in close contact with those who still do and in not so great condition, Barrett said. Always remember, no matter your circumstance, you still have an opportunity to change your future, he said of the opportunities and benefits he gained while serving as a Marine.

 
From his personal experience, Barrett has been around those who have held onto grudges from events in our country's history, said Barrett, as the tone in his voice became melancholy.

“We have to let go of the past and continue to keep the Native American name a good one,” said Barrett confidently. “Even if you aren't a Marine or a Native American, take pride in who you are and where you come from.”


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