Russell Begaye: ‘Honor the Navajo Code Talkers’

By Russell Begaye
Navajo Nation

Our Navajo Code Talkers sacrificed their lives as they responded to the call of duty and enlisted into the armed forces during World War II.

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye. (Times file photo – Donovan Quintero)

Their bravery in battle and ingenuity in the field of military communications helped lead the United States to victory in World War II. Their service protected the freedom and liberty of the Nation as we know it today.

On July 28, 1982, U.S. President Ronald Reagan issued a proclamation designating Aug. 14, 1982, as National Navajo Code Talkers Day.

The proclamation stated that the day was “dedicated to all members of the Navajo Nation and to all Native Americans who gave their special talents and their lives so that others might live.”

The Office of the President and Vice President holds our Navajo Code Talkers and their service in highest regard. With each passing year, we seem to lose another of our national treasures, the Code Talkers.

We do not agree with Resolution No. CAU-30-17, that it is in the best interest of the Navajo people to change the declaration of Aug. 14 as “Navajo Code Talkers Day” from a paid holiday to an observed holiday.

There are numerous U.S. holidays that could be designated as “observed” while keeping our Navajo specific holidays intact, while honoring and observing these important events in our history.

We were not given the opportunity to act on this legislation. This legislation is a unilateral act of the Navajo Nation Council and not the president’s office.

Furthermore, we ask the Navajo Nation to stand by our Code Talkers, our veterans and their families in affording them a day of remembrance.

This holiday is based in honor and remembrance and our Navajo Code Talkers are fully deserving of it. Let’s take this day to honor our Navajo Code Talkers.

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Categories: Guest Essay