|Thursday, Oct 27, 2005|
Despite the mid-afternoon heat, many turned out to welcome the Navajo Code Talkers during their historical return to Saipan.
The ceremony, led by Mistress of Ceremonies Ruth Coleman, began with the singing of the Star Spangled Banner. Once singing was completed, one of the guests of honor, returning Code Talker Albert Smith, PFC 4th Marine Division, provided the spiritual remarks. Albert Smith began by lightly blowing into the microphone and then made some whispers, he later described that he was sending a message to God in code.
Smiths comments were touching and thoughtful. He thanked the audience many times for hosting him and his friends and he encouraged the audience to think about their actions and to remember to Take care of Mother Earth, for that is why we are here. At the conclusion of his remarks, Smith once again blew into the microphone and transmitted the same code he had sent to God at the beginning of his speech.
After Smiths spiritual remarks, the Honorable Juan N. Babauta, CNMI Governor, welcomed the Code Talkers: Fourth Marine Division PFCs Albert Smith, Sam Smith, and Keith Little. The Governor stresseed the accomplishments of the Code Talkers and credited them as being an important factor in winning the war. The Governor also emphasized that these mens contributions went unrecognized for more than two decades after the war because the information remained classified. The Governor then signed the Proclamation which desginated October 25th, 2005 as Navajo Code Talker Day.
Following the signing of the Proclamation, Jerry Facey welcomed the Code Talkers and then described the significance of the Commemorative Medallions that they were about to receive. These medallions are only available to returning veterans and they can not be purchased on or off the island of Saipan. After Facey descibed the importance and uniqueness of these medallions, the Governor and Pete Tenorio, the Washington Representative , presented these coins to the veterans. After the coins were distributed, Babauta and Tenorio took the wreath and along with the Code Talkers, laid the wreath in front of the Court of Honor. The wreath bore a ribbon that read, In Memory of Our Fallen Comrades, Code Talkers.
Once the wreath was placed, everyone bowed their heads in a moment of silence for those who made the ultimate sacrifice during Operation Forager. After the pause, Taps was played by Sgt. Daniel Quitugua. After Taps was completed, the Mistress of Ceremonies thanked everyone in attendance and then reminded them that the distinguished guests of honor would be returning to American Memorial Park later that night to participate in a question and answer session with the public.