Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks at the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony honoring the Native American Code Talkers. Below are the Leader’s remarks:
“Thank you. It is an honor to be here with Mr. Speaker, Leader Reid, Leader McConnell, to be here with our Native American brother, Congressman Cole. With Congressman Ron Kind, please sign up for the veterans program, with our distinguished Senator Johnson and with Senator Inhofe. And Senator Inhofe, we in California take great pride in having the largest number of Native Americans.
“In 1941 – and of course, with the Admiral whom we will hear from later – a young member of the Comanche tribe, Charles Chibitty, joined the U.S. Army, one of 17 men of his tribe recruited to speak their language in service to our country in World War II. Even in a nation that long denied him his basic rights, that long refused his people citizenship, that long neglected the challenges facing Native Americans, Charles volunteered. Like many of his generation, like his fellow Code Talkers and service members, he signed up to protect and defend our communities and our shared homeland.
“That is the oath of office that we all take: to protect and defend. And the Code Talkers honored that pledge and helped us honor ours, all Americans to do so.
“As he stated years later: ‘What we did, we save[d] lives, using the Native American language.’ As soldiers and Marines, with a code no enemy could decipher, the Code Talkers saved lives – yes indeed, Charles; you did – on the beaches of Normandy and the shores of Guadal Canal, and at Iwo Jima. They saved lives in the invasion of D-Day, the battles of the European theater, and fighting across the South Pacific. They kept their code secret and safe, as the Speaker mentioned. They served with undaunted bravery – part of a band of brothers that defeated tyranny, set a continent free, and restored the hope of democracy across the globe.
“The Code Talkers, using their language, carried forward the hopes of their people, committed to the cause of freedom. Their sense of duty was never shaken – nor was their resolve. Their patriotism never wavered – nor did their courage. Their bonds of brotherhood were never broken – nor was their code.
“For their heroism and sacrifice, for the contributions that went unrecognized for too long, it is a privilege for Congress to award the Native American Code Talkers the highest honor we can bestow: the Congressional Gold Medal.
“And by your accepting it, you bring luster to this award. May these medals long endure as a sign of respect, admiration, and unending gratitude for our Native American tribes and the sons they sent to battle. We all know that God truly blessed America with our Code Talkers. Thank you and congratulations.”