Uncovering America's Heritage... Coin by Coin
2000 Navajo Code Talkers Medal
I'm Nero with November's coin...which is not a coin at all, but a medal! Medals are not money. They are usually used as awards. But some medals are also made and guarded at the United States Mint, so I'd like to tell you about one that was made for the Navajo Code Talkers.
What is a Navajo Code Talker? That's a wonderful story.
During World War II, the various armies used radios to talk to each other. Armies could listen to their enemies' radio signals and learn about secret plans. Both sides came up with secret codes to hide their messages from each other, but they often figured out each other's codes anyway.
Basing a code on a well-known language like English made it easier to figure out. But the native American language Navajo was not known very widely around the world. So the Marine Corps got 29 Navajo soldiers together to come up with a code that would confuse the enemy...and it worked! Later, about 400 other Navajo soldiers became Code Talkers as well.
Congress called for this medal to be made of gold and given to the first 29 members the Navajo Code Talkers. Copies of the medal were made of bronze and sold to collectors. (You can see more veterans' gold medals at the Medal Mania workshop in Camp Coin.) A second medal made of silver was awarded to the later members.
But many years passed between the end of the war and awarding the medals. That's because the work of the Code Talkers was top secret. Both the government and the Code Talkers themselves had to keep it a secret until recently.
Thanks to the Navajo Code Talkers, the allied armies won great victories, countless lives were saved, and the war ended much sooner than it might have.