“Congress is now in the position to right this seventy year old a wrong and honor our Filipino WWII veterans with a Congressional Gold Medal,” says Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (Ret), chairman of the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP). “We thank the Senate for taking prompt action in July. We are now calling on Speaker Paul Ryan, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and the rest of the House senior leadership to do the same and approve this measure before the current session ends.”
“We urge this final vote to complete this critical mission,” Taguba adds, “so that President Obama can immortalize America’s gratitude to honor Filipino veterans of WWII as war time heroes who defended America and its citizens.”
More than 260,000 Filipino service men and women were called into service in 1941 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. But their wartime service under the U.S. flag has never been recognized. They have been waiting for more than 70 years.
In June 2015, both the House and the Senate introduced legislation awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to Filipino Veterans of World War II. The Senate, led by Sen. Maize Hirono (D-HI) and 172 co-sponsors, passed the bill in July. The House measure, led by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), gained more than 305 cosponsors in early October. It now awaits approval by the House.
Taguba points out that Filipino WWII soldiers are the last minority veterans of World War II who have not received the Congressional Gold Medal. Other minority veterans who were previously recognized include the Tuskegee Airmen, Montford Marines, Navajo Code Talkers, Women Air Service Pilots, Japanese American Nisei Soldiers and the Puerto Rican 65th Infantry Regiment.
“Moreover, the Rescission Acts of 1946 took away their honor, their dignity, their pride and citizenship,” Taguba adds. “They obeyed President Roosevelt’s military order on July 26, 1941. But after their uncommon valor and sacrifice, they were treated unjustly by the same country they willingly vowed to protect and defend.”
Less than 15,000 Filipino World War II veterans remain today, most of them ailing and in their 90s.
The Congressional Gold Medal (CGM) is the highest award bestowed by U.S. Congress to an individual or group who performed a significant achievement that has impact in American history and culture.
The Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP), is a nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, community-based, all-volunteer national initiative whose mission is to obtain national recognition of Filipino and American WW11 soldiers across the United States and the Philippines for their wartime service to the U.S. and the Philippines from July 26, 1941 to December 31, 1946. For more information about Filipino WWII veterans and how to get involved, visit our website at www.filvetrep.org or find us on Facebook or Twitter.