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A Holiday in Kayenta

A Holiday in Kayenta
November 14
04:39 2017

Samuel Holiday

Every time a bell rings, an angels gets its wings.

It takes a little longer for a Navajo Code Talker to get his due … but eventually it does happen.

Although the idea has been suggested for years, on November 3 Code Talker Samuel Holiday was finally honored by his home community.

The Samuel T. Holiday Library and Media Center at Kayenta Middle School was officially dedicated in honor of the 93-year-old veteran.

“I think he deserves the recognition,” Page resident Bernice Austin-Begay said.

She’s related to Holiday by clan. Holiday was from the Bitter Water Clan, the same clan as Austin-Begay’s late father, the noted medicine man Buck Austin.

“When I entered Kayenta Boarding School as a nine-year-old in the Fall of 1955, I often saw Mr. Holiday around the school compound as an ordinary Navajo,” Austin-Begay said. “It was not until the Navajo Code Talkers were declassified that I realized his legacy.”

Holiday’s late wife, Lupita, was Austin-Begay’s dorm mother.

The recognition is appropriate, according to Holiday’s daughter, Helena Begay. Holiday was not only a Code Talker, but is a published author as well, she said.

His autobiography, with Robert McPherson – “Under the Eagle” – is available at the middle school library and Helena Begay encourages students to read the book and learn about the proud heritage and sacrifices of the Code Talkers.

Holiday said he saw a lot of “beautiful children” at the ceremony and it made him think of the Japanese soldiers who died and their wives and children.

Holiday was feeling a bit sentimental his daughter, Carol Todecheene, explained because that morning he had received word that his brother had passed on.

Middle School librarian Chris Hampton said the impetus behind the honor came from student council advisor Marsha Whitehair.

However Whitehair deflected the credit, saying that many people had the same idea. This time things just fell into place when they learned that Holiday was going to be in town for a gourd dance, Whitehair explained.

“Mr. Holiday is very iconic and he used our language, which we as elected leaders are trying to get the youth to do,” Navajo Nation Council Delegate Nathan Brown said.”  I think it’s very important to lift him up as an example to our youth.”

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