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ALTON - History and culture combine at an upcoming program at Hayner Public Library District.

“Code Talkers: The Fascinating History of Native American Service in World War II” will share the story of the Code Talkers, Native American service members who used their native tribal languages to transmit messages on D-Day. From 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, July 23, 2024, community members are invited to Hayner Library’s Alton Square Mall location to learn more about these service members and their history.

“Part of the mission statement of the library is to bring educational and cultural programming to our patrons,” explained Mary Cordes, Hayner’s executive director. “I thought this kind of fits the bill on so many different fronts.”

Cordes explained that she was at a North Alton-Godfrey Business Council meeting when she learned of the Code Talkers. Grafton Mayor Mike Morrow shared information about them as he was talking about the National Memorial of Military Ascent. When he mentioned Warren Gohl, maternal descendant of Comstock, Seneca Cayuga tribes of Little Sandusky River relocated 1831, Cordes knew she wanted to bring Gohl to the library.

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Gohl, who is also the National Memorial of Military Ascent chaplain, has an impressive biography. He served in Vietnam and received the Bronze Star Medal. He also serves as a Native American Indian Traditional Practitioner and Chaplain for the Inter-Tribal Warriors Society Honor Guard, Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, Auburn, WA.

During the program on July 23, Gohl will talk about the Code Talkers, their role in the U.S. military and what they did on D-Day. Morrow will also be present to “set the scene” for D-Day, Cordes said.

“It’s just a fascinating history and a history that we don’t really talk about and we don’t really know about all that much, and so [Gohl] is going to be coming and talking about that,” she explained. “It’s just another part of our history and it fits perfectly with the library’s mission statement to bring cultural, educational and entertainment resources to our patrons, so it kind of fits all three.”

Cordes added that she loves learning about WWII history and feels like she knows a lot, but she didn’t know anything about the Code Talkers until Morrow mentioned them at his presentation. She hopes that Gohl’s lecture will inform more people about this part of history.

“It just really reinforces that we’re all in this together and we all have differences in our past and this is just another aspect of people stepping up when they were called to serve,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a really interesting program.”

The program is completely free, though the library asks attendees to register by calling 1-800-613-3163. For more information about “Code Talkers: The Fascinating History of Native American Service in World War II,” click here or visit HaynerLibrary.org to learn more about the library’s services.

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