Winchester receives Historic Preservation Award
● By Steven Hoffman
The Oxford Area Historical Association presented its Historic Preservation Award to Dr. Richard Winchester at its annual meeting on Nov. 10. Ware Presbyterian Village was honored with the organization’s Historic Preservation Award for a group.
“We are always pleased to give out these awards to those groups and individuals that keep history alive,” explained Ken Woodward, the vice president of the Oxford Area Historical Association.
Woodward noted that the organization doesn't automatically give out these awards each year, but rather only selects recipients when an individual or group is truly deserving.
More than 115 people people turned out for Oxford Area Historical Association’s program, which also included a presentation called “The Navajo Code Talkers of World War II” by guest speaker David Manuel.
Dr. Winchester, a well-respected member of the Oxford community, is a retired history professor and administrator of The Lincoln University. Winchester enjoyed a 39-year career in education, and he is a good source of information about the educational history of the area. He also served on the Oxford School Board for a decade, including four of those years when he was selected to be the president of the school board. He wrote a book about the Oxford Presbyterian Church’s history. He was also instrumental in starting the Oxford Educational Foundation, which provides support to Oxford's schools in numerous ways, including mentoring and tutoring students and providing grants to teachers for innovative programs. In 2014, Winchester was named Director Emeritus of the Oxford Educational Foundation.
Woodward explained that Winchester speaks to the new teachers in the Oxford Area School District each year when they are going through the new teacher induction program.
With regard to the group award, Woodward said that Ware Presbyterian Village was selected for this honor because of the work preserving the Ware Mansion and the Frank E. Brown House on its campus.
After the awards were handed out, Woodward introduced Manuel, the guest speaker. The Mountville, Pa. resident has been a member of CNH Americas Toastmasters Club since 1999, as well as a member of the Lancaster County Speakers Bureau since 2002.
Manuel entertained the audience with his presentation about the Navajo Code Talkers and their role in helping the U.S. military during World War II.
Japanese intelligence personnel had early successes breaking U.S. military codes. This enabled the Japanese to anticipate U.S. attacks, which cost an untold number of American lives. The U.S. forces needed a better way to communicate, and the Navajo code talkers provided the solution. A man named Philip Johnston was working as a civilian in Los Angeles, but still maintained connections with the Navajo people with whom he grew up, when the U.S. entered World War II. Johnston read that the U.S. Army was using Comanches to transmit military communications, and he presented the United States Marine Corps with a proposal to utilize the Navajo language.
Manuel explained that the Navajo language was passed down orally from one generation to the next, and was still a largely unwritten language during World War II, making it extremely difficult for anyone to decipher the U.S. military code. The Navajo Code Talkers proved to be an invaluable resource for the U.S. during World War II.
Manuel, an expert on the Navajo Marines, said that he enjoys sharing the story about the Navajo Code Talkers with audiences.
“These events carry a certain emotional weight to them,” Manuel explained
For more information about the Oxford Area Historical Association, including how to become a member, visit www.oxfordhistorical.com.