NATIONAL NAVAJO CODE TALKERS DAY | AUGUST 14
Each year on August 14th, National Navajo Code Talkers Day honors the contributions of the Native Americans who brought their unique abilities to the World War II effort. The day also highlights their impact on U.S. code and the Native American language that made it possible.
While code talkers were instrumental during World War II, the United States military used the Native American language in their coded messages before. During World War I, the Choctaw tribe’s language was called upon to relate coded messages.
One member integral in creating the military code was Philip Johnston. While he was not Navajo, Johnston did speak the language fluently. He also recruited the native speakers necessary to the Code Talker’s success.
Initially, there were 29 Code Talkers, including Charlie Sosie Begay, Roy Begay, Samuel H. Begay, Eugene Crawford, Oscar Ilthma, and Lloyd Oliver, to name a few. However, that number would grow. Until 1968, the program remained classified. At that time, the United States presented the original 29 Navajo Code Talkers with Congressional Gold Medals. Additionally, the remaining Navajo Code Talkers were presented with Congressional Silver Medals.
HOW TO OBSERVE NATIONAL NAVAJO CODE TALKERS DAY
Celebrate the Navajo language. Recognize the incredible efforts of the Navajo Code Talkers by attending online and public events. While celebrating their invaluable contributions, also discover more about their history:
- Explore their history by reading Navajo Code Talkers by Nathan Aaseng or Unsung Heroes of World War II: The Story of the Navajo Code Talkers by Deanne Durrett.
- Watch a documentary with interviews and backstories.
- Navajo Code Talkers: The Epic Story directed by Allan Silliphant
- True Whispers: The Story of the Navajo Code Talkers produced by Yvonne Russo.
- Visit a museum with some up close and personal details. The World War II Museum in New Orleans and the Navajo Code Talker Museum in Tuba City are two great places to start.
Don’t forget to share stories and experiences using #NavajoCodeTalkersDay on social media.
NATIONAL NAVAJO CODE TALKERS DAY HISTORY
In 1982, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed National Navajo Code Talkers Day to recognize all the tribes for their contributions during the war. In his address, Reagan recognized other tribal nations for their contributions to war efforts, mentioning the Choctaw, Chippewa, Creek and Sioux by name.