Middle school names library after Code Talker

KAYENTA

Holiday walks with cane, escorted by students holding banners in his honor.

Navajo Times | Cindy Yurth
Kayenta Middle School students on Friday escort Navajo Code Talker Samuel Holiday to the library that will now bear his name.

It was one of those things they had always planned to do some day, but nobody ever got around to setting a date.

Finally, last Friday, it happened: Kayenta Middle School officially named its library the Samuel T. Holiday Library and Media Center.

It’s an appropriate honor, noted his daughter, Helena Begay, because her father is not only a Code Talker but a published author. His autobiography with Robert McPherson, “Under the Eagle,” is available in the library, and Begay urged the youth at the naming ceremony to check it out and “learn about the Code Talkers so you can tell others.”

The 93-year-old veteran himself waxed a bit melancholy in his speech to the excited, flag-waving student body, perhaps wanting them to be a little more somber when celebrating war heroes.

“I see beautiful children here,” he said. “I see a lot of smiles. I think of all the (Japanese) soldiers who died, and all their wives and children.”

Holiday’s daughter Carol Todecheene, director of transportation for the Kayenta Unified School District, explained that her father was feeling “sentimental” because “he got some bad news this morning.” Holiday had just learned that he had lost his brother.

According to librarian Chris Hampton, the impetus to name the library after the local hero came from Marsha Whitehair, student council advisor, but Whitehair said other people had also had the idea. This year’s student council really took on the initiative, she said.

Categories: News

About Author

Cindy Yurth

Cindy Yurth is the Tséyi’ Bureau reporter, covering the Central Agency of the Navajo Nation. Her other beats include agriculture and Arizona state politics. She holds a bachelor’s degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University with a cognate in geology. She has been in the news business since 1980 and with the Navajo Times since 2005, and is the author of “Exploring the Navajo Nation Chapter by Chapter.” She can be reached at editor@navajotimes.com.