Military Heroes Month: A Reverence that Will Not Be Forgotten

Nov 19, 2012 8:00 AM ET

We want America to remember us forever,” said Bill Toledo, an original Navajo Code Talker. Mr. Toledo expressed concern that our country might one day forget the sacrifices of those who fought in World War II. After meeting eight of the original Navajo Code Talkers last week, I am certain their stories of service and honor will be remembered forever. 

The Navajo Code Talkers were an elite group of communicators who developed a secret, tactical code based on their native language. In the beginning of World War II, Japanese intelligence deciphered our communication, including important commands and top-secret information, due to their knowledge of the English language. Consequently, the well-being of our troops and our strategies for success were at risk. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in late 1941, the Navajo Code Talkers were formed, creating a code that remains unbreakable still today and instigating a pivotal turning point towards America’s success in World War II.

This past Friday, Southwest had the honor of welcoming onboard some of the original Code Talkers as they traveled from Albuquerque to New York City on their way to the Veteran’s Day Parade.  As part of Military Heroes Month, we took a moment to honor these heroes for their service and share the Code Talkers’ stories with our Customers. Mr. Toledo even taught passengers to say “Good Morning” in Navajo.

My grandfather served in World War II, and I grew up with his stories of sacrifice and freedom. Like Mr. Toledo, I too have wondered if we will forget the sacrifices of our “greatest generation” as their numbers become fewer.

After the Code Talkers preboarded their flight, I watched as nearly each Customer stopped to shake their hands, and thank them for their service. As I witnessed men and women of all ages expressing their gratitude to these heroes, I realized that we will always hold a reverence and respect for those who fought for our freedom- a reverence, Mr. Toledo,  that will not be forgotten.

Patriotism runs deep at Southwest Airlines, and we are proud of all those who serve, especially the nearly 5,800 Active Duty, Reservists, and Veterans who are part of the Southwest Family.  In celebration of Military Heroes Month in November, you’ll hear about and read blogs about service, how we honor the military, the sacrifice these heroes make, and how we celebrate the brave who fight for our Freedoms. Who’s your hero?  How do you appreciate the military?  Share your story by commenting below.