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Deserving honor

It’s never too late to say thank you.

And that is exactly what Alaska is doing this week posthumously to five Alaska Natives who quietly did their duty.

The state is honoring the memory of these five for their contributions during World War II — about 75 years ago.

The five served as Tlingit Code Talkers. By using their Native language to relay information during combat, Americans were able to communicate without the Japanese military deciphering what was being said.

They were remembered in 2013 by Congress, with silver medals being presented to their families.

This year, at opening ceremonies for the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament in Juneau, Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer will present their families with flags flown at the state capitol.

The Alaskans to be honored include Robert “Jeff” David Sr., a Haines basketball legend who served in the Philippines during WWII; Richard Bean Sr., a Southeast commercial fisherman who served in the South Pacific; George Lewis Jr., a fluent speaker of Tlingit and WWII serviceman; Harvey Jacobs and Mark Jacobs Jr., who joined the U.S. Navy after the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

These men likely never expected that their Native language would serve not only them, but their nation in such a meaningful way.

But that the language still existed and those who could speak it served in the armed forces likely saved lives and undoubtedly greater hardship for those who served.

All Alaskans should take a moment to honor their contributions to the state and the nation. They deserve it.