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Navajo Code Talker Thomas Begay chosen as grand marshal for Phoenix Veterans Day Parade

By Gabriel Pietrorazio
Published: Saturday, November 11, 2023 - 12:16pm
Updated: Tuesday, November 14, 2023 - 8:46am

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Navajo Code Talker Thomas H. Begay salutes crowds, navigating the streets of Capitol Hill during last Veterans Day in Washington, D.C.
Gabriel Pietrorazio/KJZZ
Navajo Code Talker Thomas H. Begay salutes crowds, navigating the streets of Capitol Hill on Veterans Day 2022 in Washington, D.C.

Native Americans have served in every major U.S. military conflict since the Revolutionary War. At least 24,000 Indigenous service members are currently in the armed forces. They account for nearly 2% of total U.S. active duty personnel.

And more than 140,000 Native veterans are still living today. Among them are the only surviving World War II Navajo Code Talkers: Peter MacDonald, 94; John Kinsel Sr., 106; and 98-year-old Thomas Begay.

Begay was selected as one of seven grand marshals for the 2023 Phoenix Veterans Parade today.

“Remember all of us,” Begay told KJZZ News. “Even I served our country to save the lives of American people. I’m proud to say, ‘Happy Veterans Day.’”