For History Teachers

9-12 Benchmark 1-A
Analyze how people and events of New Mexico have influenced United States and world history since statehood. Analyze the role and impact of New Mexico and New Mexicans in World War II (e.g., Navajo Code Talkers, New Mexico National Guard, Bataan, internment camps, Manhattan Project, and Bataan Death March). The purpose of Silent Voices of WWII is to describe the important role of New Mexico in the conduct of World War II. New Mexico National Guardsmen surviving the Bataan Death March and Prisoner of War camps (the first to fire and last to lay down their arms in the Philippines), Navajo Code Talkers helping win Pacific Islands, Japanese American males in New Mexico internment camps labeled “enemy aliens,” and Los Alamos science teams racing to develop the atomic bomb, create images which mix together uneasily. Yet, these seemingly unrelated events of World War II were connected because of the unique qualities of the arid, spacious land that is New Mexico. To the authors’ knowledge, no other book combines such events. Maps, time lines, photos, comparison charts, and easy organization with documentation, assist the reader.


New Mexico History Teachers 2009 Manhattan Project Workshop, sponsored by the Atomic Heritage Foundation. Nancy (front center), served as faculty, and her book, Silent Voices of WWII, was one of the coursebooks used.

Students need to learn the circle of history when the lessons of history are not learned. How do these lessons relate to today’s happenings? Treatment by the Japanese of American Prisoners of War is contrasted with treatment by the New Mexicans of internees of Japanese descent. The role of the Geneva Convention rules is described. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents watched nuclear scientists as well as interned Japanese Americans, which was a loss of civil liberties. Mail censorship and isolation of all four groups are described, whethering living in barracks, ships, or under imprisonment. Treatment of Iraqi War POWs, possible internment of Muslims, and suicide terrorists giving up life for an ideal have counterparts in World War II history.

9-12 Benchmark 1-B
At the United States level, students should learn the New Mexico and the United States roles in the world through eras, events, and persons since the Civil War and Reconstruction. Analysis should include reasons the United States moved from a policy of isolationism to involvement after the bombing of Pearl Harbor as well as major turning points in the war (e.g, the impact of the Battle of Midway, D-Day Invasion, and dropping of atomic bombs).These three turning points of World War II are integrated stories in “SILENT VOICES.” The Japanese attack on Hawaii was an attack on Mother Earth, said the Navajos. Pacific naval battles include the Battle of Midway where Americans broke the Japanese code while the Japanese could not break the Navajo code. This code, used by the U.S. Marines, was essential to win Iwo Jima and other islands. A Marine commander claimed the Navajos helped shorten the war by a year. An entire chapter describes the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, the Alamogordo area, Lamy, Santa Fe, and Albuquerque. Collaboration with other countries and laboratories, sanctuary to Jewish physicists needed to help solve the fission challenge, and understanding of European Fascism by the scientists united the participants to work diligently.

Describe geographical, culture and religion in East Asia in order to learn great insight in understanding the Japanese culture. As the title describes, this book focuses on issues of intercultural communication–mainly the difficulties between New Mexicans and Japanese when they came in contact, often at the ends of a weapon or through the barbed wire of a prisoner stockade. Their markedly different cultures led to mutual misunderstandings, heightened prejudice, and violent acts. When World War II began, New Mexico, the fourth largest state, contained 531,815 inhabitants, one of the least populated of the 48 states. Less than 200 Japanese lived in New Mexico at the time, so few New Mexicans had ever met a person of Japanese descent. The Japanese value toward bushido explains suicide instead of surrender (a military command and later a civilian project), kamikaze pilots and submarine pilots sacrificing their lives for a god, and the emperor’s decision to surrender to save the race and the nation. Geography of the Pacific is learned through the military contributions of the U.S. Army and Air Force, the U.S. Navy, and U.S. Marines. ❇