PHOENIX – Code Talker Thomas H. Begay and others commemorated Navajo Code Talkers Day Sunday morning in Phoenix, honoring their contributions that have been credited with helping the United States win World War II.
At a memorial near Wesley Bolin Plaza, Begay, one of the last three living Code Talkers, said the holiday was to remember those who did not return from service.
“We are honored today to remember those code talkers who never came home,” said Thomas H. Begay. “During 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.”
Code Talkers communicated messages in the Pacific during World War II using a code with their native language – a then unwritten language.
“I want to thank you for joining us today, with us in remembrance. Thank everyone around, anywhere, thank them for remembering Navajo Code Talkers,” Begay said.
Former Navajo Nation President and one of the last remaining Code Talkers, Peter MacDonald, told the Veterans Association, “Without the Navajo, the Marines would never have taken the island of Iwo Jima. This is how essential Navajo Code was to the war in the Pacific.
In March 2021, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey announced Navajo Code Talkers Day as a holiday.
More recently, Ducey said the Navajo Code Talkers “changed the course of history with their strength and ingenuity.”
— Doug Ducey (@DougDucey) August 14, 2022
He added, “Arizona will never forget the contributions of the Navajo Code Talkers. Their mother tongue became an unbreakable code and an essential asset in winning World War II.
Some of the words used to convey messages were new to their mother tongue. In one instance, since there was no Navajo word for “submarine” when the war entered, Code Talkers created the term “besh-lo”, a direct translation of “iron-fish”.
Code Talkers have aided all military operations in every Marine-supervised assault in the Pacific.
John Kinsel Sr. is the third remaining Navajo of the group.