August 14, 2020

Udall Statement Honoring Navajo Code Talkers Day


For Immediate Release

August 14, 2020

Contact: Ned Adriance

202.228.6870 || @SenatorTomUdall


Udall Statement Honoring Navajo Code Talkers Day


SANTA FE, N.M. — Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, issued the following statement to honor the over 400 Navajo Code Talkers whose critical service saved lives and played a pivotal role during World War II:


“Almost 80 years ago, over 400 Navajo men volunteered for Code Talker duty to fight for a country that had not even recognized them as citizens until two decades earlier, even though the Navajo people had lived on these lands since time immemorial. Nonetheless, these brave young men enlisted so they could serve.


“Today, we honor the bravery and service of the Code Talkers, who saved lives and played a critical role in U.S. military efforts in the Pacific theater during World War II. On the battlefields, as they risked their lives, they relayed countless messages in Navajo code with critical information in quick succession. Their code was never broken. In the Navajo Code, the word for America was ‘our mother.’ As one Code Talker has explained —’‘Our Mother’ stood for freedom — our religion — our ways of life. And that’s why we went in.’  The Navajo Marines identified their culture with their country. When they fought, they fought for both.


“Our country owes these heroes a debt that we can never repay. Even upon their return, the Code Talkers have continued to serve our country and their communities as leaders, health care workers and so much more. Four of the Code Talkers are still with us today—Thomas H. Begay, John Kinsel, Sr., Samuel Sandoval and Peter MacDonald, Sr. Today, we honor the service of these four men and the service of more than 400 brothers who sacrificed at a critical time for the security of our nation and the world.


“We can never thank you enough. But from the bottom of my heart, I join a grateful nation to say – ahéhee.”


To watch Shelby Vandever, granddaughter of Code Talker Corporal John Vandever Sr., reading Senator Udall’s statement honoring Navajo Code Talker Day, please click here.