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65th Anniversary Year of the Battle of Iwo Jima

June 14, 2010– On July 24 and 25, 2010 at its 19th Annual Native American Dance & Music Festival, Ganondagan will welcome two of the remaining 86 Navajo Code Talkers, honoring them and commemorating the 65th Anniversary Year of the Battle of Iwo Jima, fought during WWII.The Navajo Code Talkers were an elite group of men, recruited by a civilian named Phillip Johnston who was fluent in the rich and complex Navajo language, and who saw its potential for the development of an indecipherable code. In 1942, the “original 29” as the first group of recruits reverently came to be known, began development of a code that started as 200 terms and was expanded to 600 by war’s end. These soldiers were sent to Marine divisions stationed in the Pacific and, during the first 48 hours of the battle of Iwo Jima, they coded over 800 transmissions with impeccable accuracy and a speed unmatched by coding machines. They became “living codes” due to the fact that no part of the code was allowed to be written down, and they gained a reputation for their amazing abilities, their heroism and their patriotism. To this day, the code used by these men is considered to be one of the most successful ever created and it was pivotal to the Allies’ victory.Because the code was classified until 1968, the Code Talkers returned home as unsung heroes following the war, and their contributions remained virtually unacknowledged. It was not until 2001 that they finally received meritorious recognition in the form of the Congressional Medal of Honor.“We are excited to welcome the Navajo Code Talkers at Ganondagan’s Native American Dance & Music Festival this year,” said Jeanette Miller, Executive Director of Friends of Ganondagan. “We honor their service and heroism, and in doing so, we’ll also be commemorating the heroism and patriotism of Veterans everywhere… in past war as well as those who are bravely and selflessly serving their country now.”In appreciation for military service to our country, Ganondagan is offering complimentary admission to all military personnel who are active, reserve, retired or disabled veterans who show a valid, government-issued military ID card at admission.Ganondagan will pay tribute to the Navajo Code Talkers on both days of the festival with a procession and honor guard after which the two men will share their stories. The final event schedule will be confirmed shortly and may be found at www.ganondagan.org.“CELEBRATE!,” Ganondagan’s 2010 Native American Dance & Music Festival will take place at Ganondagan State Historic Site located at 1488 State Rte. 444, Victor, NY on July 24 and 25 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admittance to the festival is $10 for adults, $7 for Seniors (62+) and Students (13+), $3 for Children (age 4-12), and Free for children under 4, for Friends of Ganondagan Members showing current membership card and for active, reserve, retired or disabled veterans who show a valid, government-issued military ID. For full program, visit www.ganondagan.org or call 585.742.1690.

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