U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., will joined tribal leaders, military leaders and colleagues at a ceremony in the U.S. Capitol to present Native American code talkers with the Congressional Gold Medal. Tribes from across the country were honored, including the Hopi, White Mountain Apache and Tonto Apachetribes from Arizona. Navajo code talkers previously received this honor in 2000.
The Gold Medal represents Congress’ highest expression of appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions. The Code Talkers Recognition Act of 2008 (H.R. 4544) directs that medals be struck to honor the valor and dedication of Native American code talkers during World War 1 and World War II. As members of our Armed Forces, these code talkers thwarted the enemy by transmitting secret coded messages using their tribal languages.
Kirkpatrick, who grew up on the White Mountain Apache Nation, said, “Today, we honor the noble legacy of Code Talkers — heroes whose unbreakable code saved countless lives in World War II. But after this ceremony is over, we must continue to honor them by fighting for veterans every day – in tribal communities and everywhere.”
As Arizona’s only member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Kirkpatrick has prioritized veterans’ issues and worked hard on behalf of the state’s more than half-million veterans. Her first piece of legislation to pass in the 113th Congress was VA CORE, which will help tackle the massive VA claims backlog. In recent months, she has introduced bills to improve access to mental health care for rural veterans and boost construction of tribal veteran nursing homes. During her term in the 111th Congress, Kirkpatrick was able to pass legislation that helped Native American, rural and disabled veterans with critical issues such as housing access and cost-of-living adjustments.
Photo: Rep. Kirkpatrick and representatives from Hopi Tribe.