As with all stories, there is a beginning and an end. But in the case of the Navajo Code Talkers' story, their story remains unbroken. This story is about a group of young Navajo men who decided to do something much bigger than themselves - signing up to be United States Marines. They didn't realize their decision would set in motion a series of events that would change the course of World War II and save the lives of thousands of service members.
The traditional story of the Navajo Code Talkers tells of the original 29 young Marines tasked with creating a secret code from their native unwritten Navajo language. The mission was to defeat the Japanese in WWII and bring the war to an end. From 1942 through 1945, over 400 Navajo Code Talkers sent thousands of messages that never were broken by the enemy. The term 'unbroken code' remains the trademark of these great American heroes.
As Americans celebrated the war's victory with parades and awarding of war medals, the Navajo Code Talkers, sworn to secrecy, were left with untold stories of valor. Not until 1968, when the Pentagon finally unclassified the secret code, would their families and the American public recognize the actual accomplishment of these brave warfighters.
The Navajo Code Talkers' story of honor, courage, and commitment (USMC) eventually made its way to the White House in 2001 when the original twenty-nine Navajo "code talkers" received the Congressional Gold Medal. Subsequent code talkers would subsequently receive the Congressional Silver Medal.
But the story doesn't stop here. In 1982, a proclamation by President Regan, House Joint Resolution 444, was approved, designating August 14, 1982, National Navaho Code Talkers Day. President Regan remarked, "Many [Navajo men] have given their lives in the performance of their duty. Their record should be recognized by all Americans."
The President ends his speech with a challenge, "I ask the American people to join me in this tribute, and I call upon Federal, State, and local officials to commemorate this day with appropriate activities."
2022 marks the 80th anniversary of the Navajo Code Talkers' heroism and another call to arms for a nation to rise and honor these men. At the time of this article, only three remain as the official guardians of the unbroken code. But as each one passes, so does the storytelling of their past. The Navajo Code Talkers Museum is the next step in keeping their story alive.
The Navajo Code Talkers museum needs your support through donations, and partnerships, sponsorship. And participation by all Americans in the annual August 14 Navajo Code Talkers Day. Contact NavajoCodeTalkersMuseum@gmail.com for more information.