Octobert 26, 2019
Pacing the camp, Captain Lawrence contemplated the Army’s latest threat. He had evidence that the Germans were deciphering their codes just as quickly as they could make them. The Germans had tapped their phones and one out of four of their messengers was captured, putting all of the Allies’ communication and offensive actions in jeopardy. While he paced, Lawrence overheard two of his men talking. The chance conversation changed the course of the war.
Approaching Solomon Lewis and Mitchell Bobb, Lawrence heard their words but had no idea what they were saying. Upon reaching the men, he asked in what language they were speaking. Hesitantly, they replied they were talking in their native Choctaw tongue. Lawrence quickly learned there were six more native soldiers in the battalion that spoke Choctaw and two stationed at Headquarters Company. Lawrence ordered the men to follow him as he set out to find a field telephone. Within moments, Lewis and Bobb were relaying a message in Choctaw to another of their tribe, Ben Carterby, who quickly translated it into English. With that, the Choctaw Telephone Squad was born.
Immediately, the eight Choctaw soldiers were stationed at all field company headquarters. Starting September 26, 1918, US forces were heavily involved on the Western Front in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. (see and ) Needing to withdrawal two companies from the front, military leaders used the Choctaw code talkers for the first time on October 26, 1918. They conveyed orders between command posts as soldiers met with little or no resistance from the Germans while carrying out their objectives. In fact, German advancement had stopped within 24 hours and in less than 72 hours, they were in full retreat as the Allies aggressively attacked. Just over two weeks later, the Central Powers were signing armistices with the Allied Powers, with a final cease fire occurring at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month. (see and )
The effectiveness of the 18 Choctaw code talkers was revealed by a captured German soldier who confessed they were completely perplexed by the foreign language. With the vast majority of Native American tribes consisting of less the 20,000 people, their languages were virtually unknown. The code talkers could speak freely in their own tongue with no fear of the Germans uncovering their messages. The only written documents in their native language were in Bibles and hymns distributed within the tribes. However, the code talkers were required to develop a few code words as there were several modern-day military terms without an equivalent Choctaw word. For example, “big gun” meant artillery, “stone” meant grenade, “little gun shoot fast” signified machine gun, “bow” stood for company, and “scalps” referred to casualties.
Following the war, the Choctaw Code Talkers returned home and quietly slipped back into society. As with many at the time, they did not really discuss their war efforts. However, their native culture proved to be even more humble as the nation was basically oblivious of the code talkers until the 1960's. Since World War I ended just weeks after the Choctaw code talkers organized, they did not have much time to apply the new program. Their impressive and heroic actions in protecting the troops remained mostly unnoticed for decades.
Understanding how powerful a tool the native languages could be for the military, leaders decided to keep the experiment quiet as it might be needed in the future. The commanders were proven right as the native languages were critical codes during World War II. Navajo soldiers picked up where the Choctaw left off, and were widely used throughout the war. Their language was so critical as unbreakable codes that they continued through The Korean Conflict and Vietnam War.
These native languages proved themselves indispensable through multiple wars, yet this skill almost didn’t happen. When America was faced with entering World War I, teachers in government schools under the guidance of progressive Democrat President Woodrow Wilson punished American Indian children for speaking in the native language. (see )
From before the Revolution, natives fought side by side with Americans, including in the French and Indian War. (see and ) During the War of 1812, General Andrew Jackson led Red Stick Creek Natives against other Red Stick Creek Indians. (see ) Unfortunately, their loyalty to him and America did not stop Jackson's determination to conquer all natives. After becoming president, he removed thousands of tribes westward despite a Supreme Court ruling confirming the right of natives to exist independent of the United States and remain their own nation in Georgia. Abandoning George Washington and the Founding Fathers' guidance of Divine Providence, Jackson worked under Manifest Destiny. (see and ) Jackson’s belief of God giving the right to do as he saw fit led him to unrepentantly orchestrate the "Trail of Tears". (see )
Despite not officially obtaining U.S. citizenship until 1924, over 12,000 natives signed up to fight at the outbreak of World War I. Their desire to protect America was greater than their issues with the government, and they served honorably. Information on the Choctaw code talkers was finally declassified in 1968, yet it was another 19 years before they received the recognition they deserved. The French Government presented them with the Chevalier de L'Ordre National du Merite (Knight of the Order of National Merit) in 1989, though most were awarded posthumously. This award also included those code talkers serving during World War II. Forty years after the program was declassified, President George W. Bush signed the Code Talkers Recognition Act, honoring all code talkers within our nation’s military history. In 2013, hundreds of code talkers representing 33 tribes received Congressional Gold Medals, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
Liberty, you will complete many missions in your life where you will receive little or no recognition for your work. Nevertheless, you should humbly carry on like the Choctaw code talkers, always striving to do what is right and to do your best.
As Christians, we are in essence our own type of code talkers. At a time when Native Americans were persecuted and punished for talking in their own language, they still answered when called upon. Christians are experiencing a similar persecution as organizations and politicians are actively seeking to prevent us from speaking our language, that of God, Christ, and the Bible. They are even going as far as to try to prohibit certain parts of our code, such as God’s view of homosexuality and abortion, be preached even in the church. Yet we cannot be silenced.
While the natives wanted to purposely keep their message hidden from others, we are called to spread the Gospel across the globe. Our issue is too many willingly reject hearing the beautiful message we have to share. Regardless, we continue on with our mission understanding Christ has already purchased our reward in Heaven with His holy, precious blood. This battle has already been won. Amen!
That’s my 2 cents.
CRACKING THE CODE