The Code Talkers had not been nationally recognized until 1969, when the 4th Marine Division Association held its reunion in Chicago. At that time a group of Code Talkers was invited to the reunion and presented with a medallion specially minted in commemoration of their services. In 1971 President Nixon presented them with a certificate of appreciation on behalf of the nation. He thanked them for their patriotism, resourcefulness, and courage. August 14, 1982 was declared National Code Talkers Day by President Reagan, who issued a proclamation of tribute to all members of the Navajo Nation who gave their special talents and their lives so that others might live.
Dan Rather interviewed the oldest Code Talker, Carl Gorman, at his home in 1997, and after the interview said the American way of life might not have survived if it were not for their service. Ninety-year-old Gorman's closing statement reflected the true heart of a Marine when he said, "Old Marines never die. They just go to hell and regroup."
The Navajos today:
Edward S. Curtis was a photographer whose pictures of Native Americans are in museums and private collections across the country. One of the most famous of these, "The Vanishing Race," was taken in 1904 and is supposed to show the Indians passing into the darkness of an unknown future, stripped of their tribal strength and culture.
The Navajos did not vanish into the darkness, however. Today they are the largest Native American tribe in the United States with a population of over 200,000, and their rich culture is alive and well. They lived through the Spaniards, the Mexicans, the Utes, white settlers, slave traders, the U.S. Army, Kit Carson, GeneralCarleton, the Long Walk, Bosque Redondo, livestock reduction, and boarding school. Many native nations have disappeared, swallowed up into the Anglo world. The Dineh, however, remain distinctly themselves. They have survived.
From the Night Chant
In Beauty (happily) I walk.
With Beauty before me I walk.
With Beauty behind me I walk.
With Beauty above me I walk.
With Beauty all around me I walk.
It is finished in Beauty.