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Sen Udall marks legacy of Code Talkers...

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    Udall Marks Legacy of Three Navajo Code Talkers in Senate Floor Speech
    WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tom Udall, D-N.M., today honored the legacy of the Navajo Code Talkers and celebrated the service of three who have passed away in the last month. Willie Begay, Thomas Claw and John Brown, Jr. were celebrated on the Senate floor for their dedication and service to America during World War II. Below is the text of Udall’s speech and to watch the video click HERE.

    “Mr. President, I rise today to mark a solemn moment for the Navajo Nation and for our country.
    “In the past month, three of America’s veterans passed away—Willie Begay, Thomas Claw and John Brown, Jr. These men were members of the small group of Marines known as the Navajo Code Talkers. Their story is one of the most compelling in American military history.
    “In May of 1942, 29 Navajo Indians arrived at Camp Pendleton in California. They were there to develop a code that could be deployed easily and would not be cracked by Japanese cryptographers. Over the course of the war, the original 29 became a team of roughly 400 Navajos responsible for building and using their code. Their success in that mission helped the Marines capture Iwo Jima. It contributed to American victory. And it saved untold numbers of Allied soldiers.

    “As most World War II veterans were returning home with stories of courage and victory, the Navajo Code Talkers were ordered to keep their story secret. Their mission was classified. Only in 1968 was it revealed to the world. And only in 2001 did these men finally receive the recognition they deserved when they were presented with Congressional medals.

    “It is often said that America’s diversity makes her strong. And during World War II, this country’s cultural diversity contributed to American military strength in a very real and concrete way.
    “Because the Navajo language had survived and been passed down, Americans had a code that the Japanese were never able to crack—a weapon they could not counter.
    “America is unique among the countries of the world. Almost every other country on earth finds its sense of solidarity in a common race and a common culture. Even countries as diverse as our own trace their heritage to some imagined community older than their political institutions.
    “Our nation has always defined itself by its ideals, not by race or culture. Though we have not always lived up to this vision of a truly multicultural democracy, it has guided our development and spurred our progress.
    “When the Navajo Code Talkers first arrived at Camp Pendleton, there were those who considered them less than fully equal. U.S. law had only acknowledged Native Americans as citizens for 17 years when our country entered World War II. Many of the Code Talkers were born as noncitizens in a land that had belonged to their people before Europeans knew it existed. Yet 45,000 of the 350,000 Native Americans in this country served in the Armed Forces during that conflict—including the 400 Navajo Code Talkers.
    “The Native Americans who signed up to serve this country in the Armed Forces were sending a message that they—just as much as anyone else—were citizens of the United States of America. Their people were just as much a part of this country’s cultural tapestry as any other.
    “In the Navajo Code, the word for America was “our mother.” As one Code Talker has explained—“’Our Mother’ stood for freedom—our religion—our ways of life. And that's why we went in.” The Navajo Marines identified their culture with their country. When they fought, they fought for both.
    “In fact, values integral to the Navajo experience spurred them to fight in America’s war against tyranny. As Americans who faced bigotry and injustice, they eagerly signed up to free others from oppression. As individuals who had lived with the legacy of aggression against their people, they felt keenly the need to prevent other acts of aggression, even if these acts were being perpetrated on the other side of the world
    “The passing of three Code Talkers—thousands of miles and dozens of years from the events that made them heroes—should make us remember the great patriotism and honor that all of the Code Talkers displayed. It should make us appreciate their work and honor their memory. And it should make us proud to live in a country where such things are possible.
    “As time does the work that Japanese guns could never do, the Code Talkers are slowly leaving us. Only 80 of the original 400 remain with us. Too soon, these men will live only in our memories. Let us keep those memories strong, lest we lose the inspiration they can offer.
    “To Willie Begay, Thomas Claw and John Brown, Jr., we honor your lives and mourn your passing. To all of the Code Talkers, alive and beyond, we celebrate your service. Whenever stories of courage and patriotism are told—we will think of you.

    “Thank you, Mr. President.”


    Jessica Borchert
    Press Assistant
    Office of U.S. Senator Tom Udall, D-N.M.

    ...And shephards we shall be. For thee my lord, for thee. Power hath descended forth from thy hand. That our feet may swiftly carry out thy command. So we shall flow a river forth to thee. And teeming with souls shall it ever be. E Nomini Patri, E Fili, E Spiritu Sancti.

  • #2


    About time someone acknowledges these great men and their hard work.

    I have a good friend who's father was a code talker and I had the great honor of hearing her speak about him once. It was great.


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