Tribal members from across the U.S. were on hand for Wednesday's ceremony in Washington, D.C. to honor Code Talkers
Gold medal for Walter C. John
Walter C. John family accepting his award.
Program from the event.
Walter C. John family picture.
The nation is honoring Native Americans who helped win World War II. A ceremony in the nation's capital Wednesday recognized the important role they played as Code Talkers, using their native languages like Lakota. It was a code the enemies in Europe and the South Pacific were unable to crack.
The contribution of Code Talkers was unknown for more than 50 years, because they were sworn to secrecy.
South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson was among the dignitaries who spoke at the ceremony. He said over the years, he's met many of the Code Talkers from his state. Johnson said these military members saved untold numbers of lives and helped win the war. "There is no question their contributions were unparalleled and have had a lasting impact on history. Most of the Native Code Talkers have passed away, but we will never forget their heroic actions and are forever grateful for their military service," Johnson said.
Senator Johnson pointed out that many Code Talkers actually began service during World War One, before they were U.S. citizens.
Among those honored was the late Walter C. John. He grew up as a member of the Santee Sioux Nation of Nebraska. John never spoke about his service with his family because the code talkers were sworn to secrecy. But he served proudly.
John died in 1998. His family attended Wednesday's medal ceremony in Washington. Last weekend, John's family members told KTIV they were grateful for the recognition.
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