Thomas Begay will be one of many dignitaries present when local war veterans and the Tonto Apache Tribe dedicate and raise the American flag at the Mazatzal Casino at 11 a.m., Thursday, April 4.
Begay, a former Marine and Navajo Code Talker during World War II, will attend the ceremony along with his wife, Nina. Begay was recently honored at the White House by President Bush for distinguished service performed as a code talker in the South Pacific during WWII.
Nina is scheduled to sing the national anthem and the Marine Corps hymn in her native Navajo tongue during the ceremony.
The 70-foot flagpole is the first to be erected on Tonto Apache land. It will be completed with a 10-foot-by-15-foot American flag donated by the Payson Flag Committee.
Representatives of the Payson VFW, American Legion, Marine Corps League, AMVETs, Military Order of the Purple Heart will also be present.
The Payson High School band will play patriotic prelude music as well as the national anthem while the flag is being raised by an entourage that includes Native American war veterans.
"This event is an outstanding example of cooperative, patriotic spirit where we all are able to stand under the common denominator of our American Flag and pledge our support as well as recall the sacrifices of those who paid the price for its being," Bill Sahno, Colonel, U.S. Marine Corp (Ret.) said.
Guest speakers include Town of Payson Vice-Mayor Dick Wolfe and Councilman Jim Spencer. Bishop Jim Stewart of the Church of the Holy Nativity a former Marine captain will deliver the invocation and dedication.
"Although many were involved in causing this event to take place, it could not have happened without the direct involvement of Ms. Vivian Burdette, chairperson of the Tonto Apache Tribal Council...," Sahno said.
The ceremony is open to the public and will be held in the parking lot of the casino. It is expected to last 30 minutes.