AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
Edmond Harjo holds his Congressional Gold Medal during a ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington on November 20, 2013. The ceremony honored code talkers and their service to the U.S. Armed Forces during World War I and World War II. Harjo walked on March 31.

Congressional Gold Medal Recipient and Code Talker Edmond Harjo Walks On

Vincent Schilling

Edmond Andrew Harjo, a Seminole Nation of Oklahoma tribal member and Congressional Gold Medal recipient, walked on March 31, 2014 in Ada, Oklahoma at the Mercy Hospital of Ada. He was 96 years old.

When Harjo served in the U.S. Army during World War II he was a private first class and a Seminole Nation Code Talker. During his service with the “A” Battery 195th Field Artillery Battalion he received a Good Conduct Medal, a EAME Service Ribbon and a Silver Star.

In November 2013, Harjo was among those at the nations’ capitol honoring code talkers from 33 tribes with Congressional Medals of Honor. Other Senatorial and Congressional leaders were present at the Congressional Awards ceremony like House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Tom Cole (R-OK), Ron Kind (D-WI), Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV).

RELATED: Code Talkers From 33 Tribes Receive Congressional Gold Medals

During the Congressional Gold Medal Awards ceremony Boehner referred to Harjo directly during his opening address.

“Edmond and his brothers were at Normandy and Iwo Jima and they mobilized the weapon of language to thwart the fiercest enemy the free people have ever known and made a difference... join me in applauding their perseverance and the deeds that have been relegated to legend and may they now live in memory,” Boehner said.

In addition to his military service, Harjo lived in the Maud and Seminole areas of Oklahoma all of his life was a longtime member and elder at his church and worked as a school teacher in the Maud schools, Justice Schools and the Picket Center. He was also a concert pianist.

“He was a great man and an educator that taught in the school systems, locally and at the reservation,” Assistant Chief Lewis Johnson of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma said about Harjo. “He was a person that carried himself very well and was always encouraging to everybody. He never really would speak a lot about the code talking—but that came about in prevalence when the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony came about.

“He wanted to do something for his nation and his tribe, so he said he would go to Washington, D.C. for the ceremony. He wanted to be there,” Johnson said.

Funeral services were held on Friday, April 4 at Swearingen Funeral Home Chapel in Seminole with Rev. Dr. Eugene Wilson officiating and elders Frank Sewell, Lewis Fife and Rick Harjo assisting with the service. The burial followed at the Seminole Nation Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Seminole, Oklahoma.

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