12:33 PM EDT
John Thune, R-SD

Mr. THUNE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time and thank him for his efforts in bringing this legislation to the floor, as well as the gentlewoman from New York (Mrs. Maloney), in giving us the opportunity to recognize these great American heroes.

Mr. Speaker, South Dakota has a long history that extends back before the founding of our country by Western explorers. Native American culture was a way of life based upon four key values: generosity, bravery, fortitude, and wisdom. Whether they were hunting for food, interacting with family members, or facing the trials of life, they always displayed these great and important values. Regrettably, the importance and revered culture of these great people was nearly erased from American history.

However, later, during the middle part of the last century, at a time when Indians were discouraged from practicing their native culture, a few brave men used their cultural heritage, their language, to help change the course of history. These men are known as the code talkers. They served our country with distinction in both the European and the Pacific fronts of World War II. The Sioux code talkers, who I represent, used their Lakota, Dakota and Nakota dialects to send coded communications

that the enemy was unable to crack. These brave men were often sent out on their own to communicate with headquarters regarding enemy location and strength without protection from the enemy. Sometimes they spent over 24 hours in headphones without sleep or food in deplorable conditions.

Today, military commanders credit the code talkers with saving the lives of countless American soldiers and being instrumental to the success of the United States military during World War II.

Two of these Sioux code talkers are still alive today: Clarence Wolf Guts of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and Charles Whitepipe, Sr. of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.

Unfortunately, the nine other Sioux code talkers, John Bear King of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Simon Broken Leg and Iver Crow Eagle, Sr. of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Eddie Eagle Boy and Philip LaBlanc of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Baptiste Pumpkinseed of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Edmund St. John of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, and Walter C. John of the Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska have passed away.

Clarence Wolf Guts and Charles Whitepipe can tell us the stories of the trials and tribulations they faced as they served our country. The families of the other Sioux code talkers can pass on the stories told to them by their husband, father or uncle.

The legislation before us today finally honors the Sioux code talkers for their distinguished service to our country. In addition, the bill recognizes two other groups of code talkers who served our country with distinction. This bill distinguishes 14 Comanche code talkers for their dedication and service during World War II, and it also pays tribute to the Choctaw code talkers who served not only during World War II, but were known to have been used for their transmission of field communications

in their native languages during World War I. I appreciate the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Granger) and the gentleman from Oklahoma (Mr. Watkins) working with me to recognize these heroes.

At a time in which we fully understand the meaning of the word ``hero,'' I believe we can all agree the code talkers are truly heroes of this country.

All of the code talkers provided safety to fellow Americans who were fighting so hard for our Nation. They did so by using their culture and their native language, which had been passed down to them through the generations. Above all, these code talkers brought respect to their Nation and victory to our country.

Last year, we rightly honored the Navajo code talkers for the important role that they played and for their heroism during World War II. It is now time to honor and recognize the Sioux, Comanche and Choctaw and code talkers for their contributions by awarding them Congressional Gold Medals.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to be the sponsor of H.R. 3250, the Code Talkers Recognition Act, to honor the men who had risked their lives to save the lives of others. Congress should recognize these courageous men for their bravery and heroism in the face of adversity. Today, we will consider this important bill and finally recognize these men for their heroic efforts.

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues, and I encourage all of my colleagues to support this important legislation. I thank the gentleman from Oklahoma (Mr. Lucas) for his work in bringing it to the floor today and say to my colleagues on the floor that it is high time that we gave honor and due recognition to these brave men and the cultures that they represent.