Navajo Nation President Honors Code Talker David E. Patterson, Sr. at Funeral Service

President Russell Begaye presents Pat Patterson, on behalf of his family, with the Navajo Nation flag and a proclamation in honor of his father Navajo Code Talker David E. Patterson, Sr.

Published October 18, 2017

SHIPROCK, NEW MEXICO – At the funeral service for Navajo Code Talker David E. Patterson, Sr., President Russell Begaye praised him for his service and presented the Patterson family with the Navajo Nation flag and a signed proclamation in his honor.

The service was held on October 12 at the Christ The King Catholic Church in Shiprock, New Mexico.

“Our language and our Code Talkers are why we’re sitting here today,” President Begaye said. “That’s why we can walk out of these doors without being afraid of anything: no one pointing a gun at us, no one belittling us, no one telling us where to go, no one telling us where not to go. We live in the land of the free and David E. Patterson, Sr. and all the Navajo Code Talkers made that possible. We are working hard to make sure that the story never ends because we want our coming generations to know who our Code Talkers are and what they did.”

Patterson was a Navajo Code Talker who used the language to create an unbreakable code that the U.S. military used to win WWII.

“We salute Navajo Code Talker David E. Patterson, Sr.,” Vice President Jonathan Nez said. “His courage is an inspiration to us all and will continue to inspire future generations. While we mourn his loss we remember all the good that he did for his community and his country.”

At the funeral service, President Begaye encouraged all in attendance to always speak the Navajo language and to pass it on to their children.

During World War II, the Navajo Code Talkers used Diné Bizaad to develop an unbreakable code for the United States Marine Corps and helped bring an end to the war in the Pacific theater.

Their efforts went unrecognized and were unmentioned for years until Aug. 16, 1968, when the Navajo Code Talker program was declassified. Before this time, the Code Talkers were sworn to secrecy in case the country would once again need the language. After the program was declassified, people slowly began to recognize their contributions.

On July 28, 1982, President Ronald Reagan designated Aug. 14 as Navajo Code Talkers Day. Later in 2000, Congress passed legislation to honor the Code Talkers with Congressional Gold and Silver Medals.

On the back of Patterson’s Congressional Silver Medal, it reads, “Diné Bizaad Yee Atah Naayéé’ Yik’eh Deesdlįį,” which translates into, “With the Diné language they helped defeat the enemy.”


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