30 October 2017
|DC community gathers at the National World War II Memorial on 26 October 2017 in a wreath laying ceremony to honor the Filipino Veterans of World War II, following the Congressional Gold Medal conferred to them at the US Capitol on 25 October 2017.|
WASHINGTON, D.C. – 75 years after the fall of Bataan and Corregidor, the United States Congress finally bestowed the Congressional Gold Medal to the Filipino Veterans of World War II, in a ceremony held at the US Capitol on 25 October 2017.
“We are here to immortalize the legacy of these great liberators, who have paved the way for generations to follow. Let this ceremony serve to ensure that those who fought for freedom are never forgotten and are always remembered,” United States Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said in his opening remarks.
Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI-2), principal sponsors of the “Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015”, both recognized the sacrifice and valor of the Filipino veterans in their respective remarks.
“It is our responsibility as public servants and Americans to honor each veteran in the same way that they honored our country,” Senator Hirono emphasized.
“These loyal and courageous soldiers fought bravely, sacrificed greatly, many even paying the ultimate price alongside our American troops. Yet for far too long their service and sacrifice has gone unrecognized in the United States. I am honored and proud that we can be here today to finally right this wrong, to finally honor the service and sacrifice of these heroes and their families,” said Representative Gabbard.
“I have waited along with my Filipino and American soldiers for this moment to come. We thank the Lord for watching over us throughout this long ordeal,” said 100-year old veteran Celestino Almeda, speaking on behalf of the Philippine Commonwealth Army and WWII Veterans at the ceremony.
In the evening of the same day, a gala celebration was also organized by the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetRep) to celebrate the veterans and their families along with members of the Filipino-American community, members of US Congress, and other supporters of the Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015.
“Tonight, we also mark a moment of shared history and shared victory. Regardless of their circumstances, and regardless of their backgrounds, our Filipino veterans came forward to serve the same causes and principles as that of the United States - to uphold the same values of democracy and liberty for all,” Philippine Embassy Chargé d’ Affaires ad interim, Minister Patrick A. Chuasoto said in his remarks.
“To our Filipino veterans, and their families, please accept your homeland’s continuing gratitude for all that you have done and sacrificed in the defense of freedom and liberty. We thank you for the strength of your values and virtue, and for being the constant reminder to us all of how to live meaningful lives,” the Minister further stated.
Minister Chuasoto along with Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) Administrator General Ernesto Carolina (Ret.) and Head of the Office of Veterans Affairs Commodore Elson Aguilar also joined FilVetRep and the DC community in a wreath laying ceremony held at the National World War II Memorial in the morning of 26 October 2017.
Senate Bill No. 1555 (S.1555), the "Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015," which provides for the award of a single Congressional gold medal of appropriate design on behalf of the Congress, to the Filipino Veterans of World War II in recognition of their dedicated service during World War II was signed into law in December 2016 under the term of President Barack Obama.
The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions in the United States. ###
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30 October 2017
|Philippine Embassy Chargé d’Affaires ad interim, Minister Patrick A. Chuasoto, Representative Leopoldo Bataoil (Pangasinan-II), and PVAO Administrator Ernesto Carolina lead the Philippine delegation to the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony held at the United States Capitol on 25 October 2017.|
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30 October 2017
|World War II Veteran, Mr. Celestino Almeda speaks on behalf of the Philippine Commonwealth Army at the US Capitol ceremony held on 25 October 2017.|
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30 October 2017
|DC community pays tribute, honors Filipino Veterans at the National World War II Memorial in the morning of 26 October 2017.|