The heroic World War II Navajo Code Talkers made a lot of people feel silly this week when they not only approved the Washington Redskins’ name, but called the moniker a symbol of courage and loyalty.
Four Code Talkers were honored for their service at Monday night’s game against the San Francisco 49ers.
Although they met briefly with team owner Dan Snyder, the team’s name never came up nor were the men asked to endorse it, Roy Hawthorne, vice president of the Navajo Code Talkers Association, told Fox News.
Yet the Code Talkers gave their tacit seal of approval when three of the four appeared wearing official team jackets. Hawthorne was asked if their appearance was meant as a statement.
“We didn’t have that in mind, but that is undoubtedly what we did do,” he said, according to Fox News. “My opinion is that’s a name that not only the team should keep, but that’s a name that’s American.”
The other Code Talkers who appeared with Hawthorne at Monday’s game were association President Peter MacDonald Sr., George Willie Sr. and George James Sr.
Sportscasters, actors, lawmakers and even the president of the United States have been critical of the team’s name in the past, especially during the past year.
The Navajo Code Talkers used codes derived from their native language to shield military communications from interception by Japanese troops. Hawthorne said there are now about 30 surviving Code Talkers.
The trip to Washington was the second this month for Hawthorne, who last week joined other Code Talkers to receive Congressional Gold Medals for the role they played in World War I and World War II.
“Windtalkers,” a major motion picture starring Nicolas Cage, was released in 2002 and depicts the Code Talkers’ heroics.
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