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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Nicolas Cage says when he read the script for his new movie ``Windtalkers,'' he knew little about the Navajo Indian Code Talkers who created the Marines' unbreakable code used in World War II's Pacific front.

``I wish I had learned more about it in high school, but they didn't put it in the history books,'' Cage said at a Senate reception marking Tuesday's film premiere. ``I have great respect for the Navajo Code Talkers and their heroic acts.''

Cage, co-star Adam Beach and director John Woo joined several surviving Code Talkers _ including four who developed the code _ and about a dozen senators at the reception.

``The recognition they're given now is richly deserved and long overdue,'' said Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo., the only American Indian in the Senate.

The Code Talkers created a code based on the Navajo language. It was used in World War II's fiercest battles, including Iwo Jima, and was never cracked.

After World War II, the Code Talkers were sworn to secrecy, and their work was not formally recognized until last summer when they were presented congressional gold and silver medals.

``It's unbelievable the courage and strength they had to have to go through'' the war, said Beach, who plays a Code Talker in the film, which opens June 14.

Cage said he hopes the film brings Code Talkers the attention and respect they deserve.

``It's going to be an education for the general public. A lot of people don't know about'' the Code Talkers, said Sam Billison, 77, of Window Rock, Ariz. ``The movie and the story will create some kind of legacy for people to remember.''

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On the Net:

``Windtalkers'' Web site: http://www.mgm.com/windtalkers