Carl Gorman: Navajo - WINNER
by Abbi (15)
(Mount Holly Springs, PA, USA)
Carl Gorman was an unsung hero of World War 2. The work that he did for the US Marines played a vital role for the American cause and saved many lives.
Throughout his life, Gorman was a very determined individual. As a child, he attended a Navajo Missionary School that forced the students to talk in English. Gorman was punished severely for insisting on speaking his native tongue?the language that would one day save the United States. In 1942, twenty-nine Navajo Indians were recruited into boot camp, Gorman among them. Although technically too old to enlist, Gorman had lied about his age because he was resolved to protect his land. The determination of Carl and the twenty-eight other Navajos got them through the strict Marine boot camp, but that was just the beginning.
These twenty-nine men demonstrated courage and ingenuity. Together they created a code using the Navajo language. This code was then taught to new Navajo recruits and put into use. Like the rest of the code talkers, Gorman translated and related messages often in the midst of battle. The courage and concentration required for this task was immense, but the pay off was immeasurable. The Japanese never cracked the ingenious Marine Corps code.
In addition to his work as a code talker, Gorman showed his creativity and passion for his heritage through art. He was a talented artist who taught art at the University of California. He also worked as the director of the Navajo Arts and Crafts Guild to preserve his heritage.
In spite of Carl Gorman's amazing achievements, he remained humble. It was not until 1992 that the code talkers were officially honored in Washington D.C. In 1995, a bust of Gorman was made by his son to commemorate the work of these seldom-recognized heroes of World War 2. Three years later, Carl Gorman passed away, but his legacy has lived on in the freedom of our country.