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August 14 is Navajo Code Talkers Day

Navajo Code Talkers Day

Solomon Islands, WWII

Today is Navajo Code Talkers Day, a holiday that honors the distinguished record of soldiers who transmitted military messages in the Navajo language during World War II. The Axis powers were unable to break the code, which helped safeguard U.S. military communications and may have hastened the end of the war.

In May of 1942, 29 Navajo recruits graduated boot camp at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, CA, and subsequently developed a dictionary that translated U.S. military terminology. They kept no written records, memorizing each word during their training.

Navajos were able to encrypt, transmit, receive and decode a three-line English message in 20 seconds. By contrast, devices of the era such as the German Enigma machine required an average of 30 minutes to perform the same task.

Code talkers participated in every operation conducted by the U.S. Marines in the Pacific theater. In February of 1945, during the first two days of the battle of Iwo Jima, six of them worked around the clock to send and receive more than 800 messages in Navajo.

Their service went unrecognized for decades due to the language’s continued use by the military.  After it was declassified in 1968, Major Howard Connor, signal officer of  the 5th U.S. Marine Division during World War II, stated, “Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima.”

President Ronald Reagan declared August 14, 1982, National Navaho Code Talkers Day. (He preferred Americanized spelling.) The last of the original 29 Navajo code talkers, Chester Nez, died on June 11, 2014, at the age of 93. Due to the program’s secrecy, the total number can only be estimated, at 400.

Let’s remember them now and every day. Happy Navajo Code Talker Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

August 11 is Presidential Joke Day

presidential joke dayToday is Presidential Joke Day. On August 11, 1984, while preparing to give a weekly radio address from his ranch in California, Ronald Reagan was asked to do a routine sound check.

Although the president enjoyed telling jokes about Russia, on that morning his remark was meant only for the sound engineers getting ready for the National Public Radio broadcast. Instead of counting “one, two, three” and so on, the president said:

My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation which will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.

The comment was captured on tape and leaked to the media, then the world. NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw reported that on August 15, 1984, a coded message sent from Soviet headquarters placed troops on wartime alert, stating, “We now embark on military action against the U.S. forces.”

The alert was withdrawn 30 minutes later, after ships in the North Pacific contacted headquarters to question their orders. The official word from the Kremlin claimed that someone in the Far Eastern Command had declared a state of war without authorization.

Some U.S. officials believed the Soviet government had sanctioned the action to retaliate against Reagan’s offensive words. Others thought it was a joke. One speculated the culprit had been drunk. We’ll never know because the guilty party was never revealed.

Setting aside its questionable humor value, we must conclude that Ronald Reagan’s joke is the most powerful ever told because the hard feelings it engendered could have caused a nuclear war.

Hear the quip here. Have a happy Presidential Joke Day and remember: Always, always, always assume the mic is live and don’t say anything you wouldn’t want to hear on the six o’clock news!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

 

August 9 is National Veep Day

Today is National Veep Day. On August 9, 1974, Richard Nixon became the first (and only) U.S. president to resign from office.

Vice President Gerald Ford assumed the office in accordance with Article II, Section 1, Clause 6 of the U.S. Constitution:national veep day

In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.

As president, Gerald Ford immediately issued a pardon for all crimes Nixon “committed or may have committed” while in office. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Happy National Veep Day!

 

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

August 7 is Purple Heart Day

Today is Purple Heart Day. On August 7, 1782, at his headquarters in Newburgh, NY, General George Washington, the commander in chief of the Continental Army, ordered the creation of a Badge of Military Merit.

purple heart day

Replica of original badge

The badge consisted of a purple, heart-shaped piece of cloth with the word MERIT embroidered in silver across the front. It was awarded to soldiers who showed “not only instances of unusual gallantry in battle, but also extraordinary fidelity and services in any way.”

Only three soldiers who fought in the American Revolutionary War received the decoration: Elijah Churchill, William Brown and Daniel Bissell, Jr. Afterward, it was largely forgotten until General Douglas MacArthur lobbied to revive it.

On February 22, 1932, the 200th anniversary of Washington’s birth, the U.S. War Department announced the creation of the “Order of the Purple Heart.”
purple heart day
The medal bears the image of Washington and his coat of arms. It’s presented to members of the military who have been “wounded or killed in any action against an enemy of the United States or as a result of an act of any such enemy or opposing armed forces.”

The Purple Heart has been a symbol of bravery and sacrifice since the founding of the United States. Today’s holiday serves as a reminder to honor our veterans.

 

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays