Rhonda LeValdo-Gayton in Native Currents. Discussion »
LAWRENCE, KANSAS For Navajo Code Talker Chester Nez, it was both a graduation day and Veterans Day wrapped into one on Monday.
Navajo Code Talker Chester Nez at KU
Nez spent three years at the University of Kansas after his tour of duty in World War II. But before he could graduate his GI bill ran out of funding and Nez left in 1952 and returned to his Navajo homeland.
Nez was one of the original 29 code talkers of the 382nd Marine platoon that used the Navajo language to get out messages during the war. Nez is now the last of the original 29.
The degree Nez received was earned; it was not an honorary degree.
On this Veterans day, KU bestowed upon Nez the degree stating that "the awarding of the Bachelor's of Fine Arts degree reflects the University's mission to have its graduates aspire to change the world, which Mr. Nez's accomplishments have certainly done."
Mr. Nez was also given his class ring by the KU Alumni Association, the keys to the City of Lawrence by the Mayor Bob Shum, and many other gifts by Haskell and KU administrators.
“I am very happy to get this degree, thank you to everyone who is here”
was Mr. Nez's response to the crowd's applause.
Nez's son put the traditional tassel on his father's hat as he was given his diploma. Eliott Bryant, a Navajo Nation member said,
“this is an honor to be here, it is inspiring to many.”
posted November 13, 2012 7:20 am edt