SCR 2 recognizing Navajo Code Talkers passes Senate

Representatives from the Navajo tribe were honored on the Senate floor.

Representatives from the Navajo tribe were honored on the Senate floor.

PRESS RELEASE:

SALT LAKE CITY (Feb. 4, 2019) – Senate Minority Assistant Whip Jani Iwamoto today presented her bill, SCR 2 Concurrent Resolution Recognizing Navajo Code Talkers, to recognize and honor the Navajo Code Talkers’ legacy for their extraordinary contribution to the nation. The resolution, which was presented during general session floor time and designates August 14, 2019 as Navajo Code Talkers Day in the state of Utah, passed the Senate and will now be moved to the House for consideration.

“I am very honored to sponsor this concurrent resolution with Senator David Hinkins, our legislature and the Governor,” Sen. Iwamoto said.

Sen. Hinkins chairs the Native American Legislative Liaison Committee, where Sen. Iwamoto is a member. Navajo tribal leaders joined them on the floor during the presentation.

The Code Talkers’ efforts helped win World War II in the Pacific Theater by creating top secret code utilizing the Navajo language to transmit messages, saving thousands of lives.

Navajo Code Talkers’ messages were transmitted to the front lines, beach command posts, command ships, aircraft carriers, battleships and to all landing units involved in every major invasion in the Pacific during WWII.

From 1942–45, Navajo radio operators transmitted the code throughout the dense jungles and exposed beachheads of the Pacific Theater, passing more than 800 error-free messages in 48 hours at Iwo Jima alone.

According to the National WWII Museum, Major Howard Connor, 5th Marine Division signal officer on the Iwo Jima landing, declared, “Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima.”

Over a dozen Navajo code talkers were killed in action and more than a dozen were wounded. After 23 years of secrecy, the Navajo code was declassified in 1968. In 2001, Congress and the President, on behalf of the United States, presented Navajo code talkers with the nation’s highest honors, the Congressional Gold and Silver medals.

“Eight of the more than 400 original World War II Navajo Code Talkers are alive today,” Sen. Iwamoto said, “Fleming Begaye, Thomas H. Begay, William Brown, John Kinsel, Peter MacDonald Sr., John Pinto, Samuel Sandoval and Joe Vandever.”

The Navajo Code Talkers leave a legacy of service continuing to inspire others to achieve excellence and instill core values of pride, discipline and honor,” Sen. Iwamoto said. “This resolution recognizes their extraordinary contribution to the nation, as well as our state.”

An additional bill sponsored by Sen. Iwamoto this session, SB 101 Navajo Code Talker Recognition, seeks to designate portions of Highways 162, 163 and 191 in San Juan County as the Navajo Code Talker Highway.

Today is also American Indian Caucus Day on the Hill, and some Native American students could be seen job shadowing Senators on the floor.

 

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Cameron Gifford