While we were out for Erin’s birthday on Saturday, Carly told me she and Jeff were going to go to Ganondagan on Sunday for a Native American Art and Music Festival. I turned green with envy, as I saw signs for this event every time we passed Ganondagan on our way home from Victor. This was something that really sounded so appealing to me. When Carly asked if we cared to join her, I was thrilled!
Here is some info on Ganondagan.
Mark and the kids were interested in the festival, but not enough to attend. Boy, did they miss out! I am going to break our visit into a few posts as there was just so much to see and do. I cannot remember when I enjoyed something so much!
I will begin my Ganondagan entries with one that was one of the main reasons I wanted to attend!
I arrived on Sunday morning before Carly and Jeff and the girls did. This gave me a little time to survey the grounds a little and visit some of the vendors. Of course I had the Nikon with me, hoping to capture some good photos of the festivities. The last vendor I visited had an interesting man visiting. He was dressed in a bright yellow shirt and he and the vendor were having a very animated discussion. When the vendor gave him the merchandise he selected, I knew this guy “might” be someone interesting. It was then I noticed the patch sewn on the sleeve of his shirt….he was a Navajo Code Talker!
Not wanting to interrupt for a photo, I pulled out my cell phone and opted to take a couple of photos that way.
The man was soft-spoken and just very likable!
Since I had forgotten a lot of the information about the Navajo Code Talkers, I was happy to find a tent offering some explanation.
After awhile, I went to the main event tent and realized the man I had encountered at the vendor tent was the main speaker for this festival!
Carly and Jeff and the girls came and we wandered around, checking out merchandise and walking over to take a look at the Longhouse. We discovered a nature trail so we went for a nice walk. We arrived back in time to discover we were in time for a parade. It was a small parade, but it was to honor Mr. Bill Toledo, the Navajo Code Talker from World War II. The parade was lining up and the honored guest was going to be ushered in via a golf cart. I spotted two veterans speaking with Bill. One had the word “historian” embroidered on his hat, and I suppose he was gathering some pertinent information.
As a young serviceman in 1942, Bill was a part of the US Marine Corps. To honor him on Sunday, a color guard was sent from the Marines.
Several people were scurrying about, getting ready for the parade!
Yeah….Carly wondered aloud to me how the fellow with the feathers on his seat was going to sit in the golf cart. Well, the answer was easy…..he didn’t, but rather, hitched a ride!
At this point, I must make mention of the fact that G. Peter Jemison was the man in charge of all the ceremonies. (Emcee) Mr. Jemison is an eighth generation descendant of Mary Jemison, the White Woman of the Genesee. I had talked about her in my post about Letchworth State Park.
The parade began and all eyes were on the beautiful and colorful garb of the veterans participating in the parade to honor Mr. Toledo.
Goodness, as these young Marines passed by, the tears just began running uncontrollably from my eyes. I thank God for the young men and women who actively serve our country. I really like the saying, Freedom isn’t Free.
The parade participants moved into the huge main event tent and we sat for over half an hour as Mr. Toledo explained the inception and workings of the Navajo Code Talkers. He is 86 years old and I can testify he had no need (other than to honor him) to be driven in a golf cart! He is very capable and sharp as a tack!
Mr. Toledo told stories of the war, explaining that to keep the Japanese from breaking US code, Navajo words were used as code. He told us a hand grenade was called a potato. He also gave insight into how the code was used and how each code talker was not allowed to discuss their mission or service; they could only say they were involved in communications.
I think the bulk of people could have listened on and on for hours, but Mr. Toldeo ended his dissertation with a beautiful rendition of the US Marine theme song sung in the Navajo tongue.
If anything, this man really made everyone’s day! What a terrific speaker and we cannot thank him enough for the very vital part he played in service to the United States and the war effort!