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SALT LAKE CITY -- Two of the last surviving World War II Navajo Code Talkers appeared before the Utah Legislature Wednesday. Lawmakers honored them with a resolution recognizing their service.
The resolution urges U.S. Congress, among other government bodies, "to support and preserve the Navajo Code Talkers remarkable legacy."
The Navajo Code Talkers received their name for the unbreakable code they created during World War II from their native language.
Out of the 400 code talkers, fewer than 50 are still living. "We meet a lot of important people, but it's not every day we get to meet a hero," Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, said.
"They saved many, many, many lives during World War II," said the bill's chief sponsor, Rep. Christine Watkins, D-Price.
HJR9's sponsor in the Senate, Sen. David Hinkins, R-Orangeville, said the code talkers returned home after the war as heroes, but military security restrictions prevented them from receiving a hero's welcome until more than 20 years later.
"It's the greatest untold story of American history," he said.
The surviving code talkers are currently undertaking a multi-year project to create a memorial museum and visitor center near the Four Corners area. The memorial will include on-site lodging for visitors and veterans and will be a hub of cultural reinforcement for the Navajo community.
The museum and visitor center will cost an estimated $42 million, with $10 million needed to start the first phase of construction. Federal funding will be needed to complete the project, Hinkins said.
The visiting code talkers were scheduled to meet with Gov. Gary Herbert after stopping by the Legislature.