WASHINGTON – Native American code talkers who helped win World War I and II were recognized in a Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony in the U.S. Capitol Wednesday. Members of the Acoma and Laguna Pueblos are among those to receive recognition for their contributions and the Hopi Tribe was honored for their efforts also.
Navajo Code Talkers were recognized in a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony in 2001. Wednesday’s ceremony corrected the lack of recognition for hundreds of code talkers from 33 tribes, who were finally awarded the nation’s highest civilian honor.
“It was an honor to celebrate the tremendous contribution by Native American Code Talkers,” said U.S. Senator Tom Udall, (D-Colo.) “Today we awarded the highest congressional honor to these veterans who helped us develop a code so strong it couldn’t be cracked. I’m proud to represent these veterans, who include members of the Acoma and Laguna Pueblos in New Mexico – many of whom, along with their families, joined us at the ceremony.”
Code Talkers are heralded for contributing their language towards secret communications that confused the enemy and gave the U.S. a major advantage in the Pacific war-time theater.
“It is often said that America’s diversity makes her strong. And during two world wars, this country’s cultural diversity contributed to American military strength in a very real and concrete way,” Udall said. “We owe a debt of gratitude to these veterans. Their patriotism and honor make us proud.”
“It’s a long time coming,” Leroy Shingoitewa, 71, told the Washington Post. Shingoitewa is a member of the Hopi Tribe who has several uncles who served as code talkers. “When they came home, they didn’t talk much about it. Finally, it’s become known.”