Navajo Code Talker commemorates national holiday at Arizona memorial

Navajo Code Talker commemorates national holiday at Arizona memorial

PHOENIX — Code Talker Thomas H. Begay and others commemorated Navajo Code Talkers Day on Sunday morning in Phoenix, honoring their contributions that have been credited with helping the United States win World War II.

At a memorial located by the Wesley Bolin Plaza, Begay, one of the last three Code Talkers alive, said the holiday is to remember those that didn’t return from their service.

“We honor today to remember those code talkers that never came home,” Thomas H. Begay said. “During the World War II, the Navajos had developed the best code that was never broken by the enemy of the United States of America.

“It was the hardest thing to learn, but we were able to develop a code that cannot be broken by the enemy.”

The Code Talkers communicated messages in the Pacific during World War II using a code with their native speech — a then un-written language.

“I want to thank you for joining us today, with us to remember. Thank all the people around, anywhere, thank them for remembering Navajo Code Talkers,” Begay said.

Former chairman of the Navajo Nation and one of the last remaining Code Talkers, Peter MacDonald, told the Veterans Association, “Without Navajo, Marines would never have taken the island of Iwo Jima. That’s how critical the Navajo Code was to the war in the Pacific.”

In March 2021, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced Navajo Code Talkers Day as a state holiday.

Most recently, Ducey said Navajo Code Talkers “changed the course of history with their strength and ingenuity.”

He added, “Arizona will never forget the contributions of the Navajo Code Talkers. Their native language became an unbreakable code and a critical asset to winning World War II.”

Some of the words used to transmit messages were new to their native language. In one instance, as there was no Navajo word for “submarine” upon entering the war, Code Talkers created the term “besh-lo,” a direct translation of “iron-fish.”

Code Talkers aided all military operations in every assault the Marines oversaw in the Pacific.

John Kinsel Sr. is the third remaining Navajo man of the group.

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