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Bill Designating Navajo Code Talkers Day In Arizona Signed Into Law Images

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has designated National Navajo Code Talkers Day as an official state holiday. It recognizes the hundreds of tribal members who used their native language to send unbreakable codes during World War II. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

Under the new law, Arizona will honor the more than 400 Navajo Code Talkers on Aug. 14 of each year. It marks the day Japan announced it would surrender to Allied forces.

After signing the bill, Governor Doug Ducey called them "American heroes." He previously made yearly proclamations to recognize the Code Talkers, but now the designation is state law. Arizona State Senator Jamescita Peshlakai sponsored the bill.

The Navajo Code Talkers took part in every major operation in the Pacific Theatre during World War II involving U.S. Marines, transmitting codes that were crucial to U.S. victories over the Japanese. At the Battle of Iwo Jima alone they sent more than 800 messages without error.

President Ronald Reagan declared National Navajo Code Talkers Day in 1982. It’s believed there are only four of the soldiers still living.

Ryan Heinsius joined the KNAU newsroom as executive producer in 2013 and was named news director and managing editor in 2024. As a reporter, he has covered a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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