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Arizona celebrates first Navajo Code Talker Day

5 min read

Navajo Code Talker Thomas H. Begay
stood on the podium wearing his gold button-up shirt adorned together with his
service medals and a customized bolo tie made out of his congressional
silver medal that’s surrounded by turquoise. He wore his purple U.S.
Marine Corps hat that has Navajo Code Talker embroidered in gold thread
on the one aspect and Iwo Jima Survivor on the opposite. 

“At present, it’s set to recollect Navajo
Code Talkers,” Begay, 98, stated. “There are numerous celebrations all through
the nation due to our leaders.”

The climate was heat, however Sunday
morning clouds shaded everybody in attendance as they listened to Begay
honor all of the Navajo Code Talkers — those that made it house and those that

“It was the toughest factor to study,”
Begay stated of the Navajo Code used throughout World Battle II. “However we have been
in a position to develop a code that can’t be damaged by the enemy.”

Begay was the visitor of honor throughout
Arizona’s first official Navajo Code Talker Day celebration, and he was
met with dozens of supporters by the Navajo Code Talkers Memorial in
Wesley Bolin Plaza on Aug. 14. 

The best way he selected to do that was
by way of track: Begay selected to sing the U.S. Marine Corps hymn in Navajo.
His son, Ronald Begay, inspired his father to sing the track and he
fortunately stood on the podium to take action. 

When he completed, he was met with applause from spectators.

The Navajo Code Talkers have been a bunch
of males who served within the U.S. Marine Corps and developed an unbreakable
code that was used throughout World Battle II. They participated in all
assaults the U.S. Marines led within the Pacific from 1942 to 1945,
together with Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Peleliu, and Iwo Jima.

The Navajo Code Talker program was
not declassified till 1968, however even then the position the code talkers
performed in World Battle II was not extensively identified. 

It wasn’t till 1982 that they
obtained some type of recognition when President Ronald Reagan declared
Aug. 14 as Nationwide Code Talkers Day.

It was an emotional day for lots of
individuals as they gathered to have a good time the Navajo Code Talkers, there have been
among the households of the code talkers who handed in attendance.

Michael V. Smith helped coordinate
the occasion, and he’s the son of the late Navajo Code Talker Samuel Smith,
Sr. Smith has helped plan and coordinate occasions to honor the code
talkers for years, and for him, Navajo Code Talker Day is on daily basis
due to his father.

“All these males, after they got here again,
they have been distinguished figures locally, however we by no means knew what
they did,” Smith stated. “My dad by no means talked about it.”

Having a day devoted to Navajo Code
Talkers is significant, Smith stated, as a result of these males went by way of
one thing arduous, and for them to have a day the place they will all sit
collectively and share tales is essential. 

“They went by way of the identical factor,
that bonds you,” he stated, including that being among the many Navajo Code
Talkers is a superb blessing. 

“All of them did one thing that no person
thought that they may do,” Smith stated. “No one thought they’d the
capability to do (it), however they created a code, a navy code, and no person
might break it. Each different code was damaged.” 

“It’s simply exceptional to have the ability to
sit down with them and know that these males can do one thing like that
and but they’re our grandpas, our dads, our judges, (and) our college
lecturers,” he added. 

The U.S. Marines initially recruited
solely 29 Navajo males to be Code Talkers in 1942. All of them needed to meet the
basic {qualifications} of a Marine, but additionally be fluent in Navajo and
English. After the primary group proved how profitable they have been at
transmitting code, the U.S. Marines began to recruit extra. 

Solely three Navajo Code Talkers are
nonetheless alive. The whole variety of Navajo Code Talkers that served within the
U.S. Marines will not be identified, however it’s estimated to be greater than 400. The
final residing Code Talkers are Begay, John Kinsel Sr. and Peter MacDonald.

“It’s been a tearful day,” stated
Smith’s spouse, Henrietta. She remembered her father-in-law through the
occasion, and when she heard the 21-gun salute, she stated she considered all
the Navajo Code Talkers. 

“He’s one of many few to make it house
and to have a legacy,” she stated. “It’s overwhelming with pleasure and also you
really feel so proud that they’re being acknowledged every year. 

“We’ve got three Code Talkers left, and it’s good for them to have a legacy.” 

The occasion lasted for about two hours,
and featured a posting of colours, a 21-gun salute, and a wreath laying
on the Navajo Code Talker Memorial statue by the Ira Hayes American
Legion Submit 84. State Sen. Theresa Hatathlie and former State Sen.
Jamescita Peshlakai each gave a welcoming handle, and Begay was the
keynote speaker.

“I really feel very honored that so many
individuals stepped as much as the plate and witnessed this primary occasion,”
Hatathlie stated, including that she was humbled that the chance to host
the occasion was given to her workplace. 

Hatathlie stated it’s a historic occasion
as a result of it honors the Navajo people who used the Navajo language to
develop an unbreakable code.

“They fought for democracy and
freedom at a time after they didn’t even have the proper to vote,” she
stated. “That, for me, is important.”

Nationwide Navajo Code Talkers Day
turned a authorized state vacation in 2021. The laws doing so was
sponsored by Peshlakai, and she or he stated that it handed each the Home and
Senate flooring with no opposition and was met with a standing ovation.

Seeing the day lastly occur was an achievement, Peshlakai stated. 

“It’s about educating future generations,” she stated, noting that Native individuals proceed to play an enormous position within the navy. 

Indigenous individuals serve within the armed
forces at 5 occasions the nationwide common and have served in each main
battle for over 200 years, based on the Nationwide Indian Council on Growing old.

“We’ve got contributed to each
battle and safeguarded our sacred homelands,” Peshlakai stated. “We’ve
defended it time and time once more.”

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