Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Filipino WWII veterans' deeds and sacrifices recognized by U.S. Congress, await Obama's signature

IN THE LATE AFTERNOON of Wednesday, Nov. 30, the House passed H.R. 2737 that would award the Congressional Gold Medal for WWII Filipino veterans. The resolution now goes to the desk of President Obama where he is expected to sign it.

Earlier this summer, the Senate unanimously passed its version of the bill, authored by Sen. Mazie Hirono and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard in the House. This afternoon, it also passed the House of Representatives unanimously.

“This Veterans Day, I joined Domingo (Los Banos of Kauai) aboard the USS Missouri to recount how these veterans were instrumental to our victory in the Pacific, but had to fight for decades to receive the benefits they earned. The unanimous support this bill earned in the Senate and the overwhelming backing it has in the House honors the sacrifice so many of these veterans made for our country.”
"These loyal and courageous soldiers suffered, fought, and gave up their lives alongside their American counterparts throughout the war, and have waited decades for their service to be recognized," said Gabbard.

The two Hawaiian lawmakers introduced the Filipino Veterans of WWII Congressional Gold Medal Act in 2015, and have worked together toward the bill's final passage. Filipino veterans in their home state were critical in pushing the resolution along with General Antonio Taguba (Ret.), who lobbied on behalf of the veterans. 

Minutes after the bill  passed the final hurdle in the House, both Hirono and Gabbard announced the decision on their Twitter accounts.

The legislation acknowledges the more than 200,000 Filipino and Filipino-American soldiers who responded to President Roosevelt’s call-to-duty and fought under the American flag against the Imperial Forces of Japan during World War II. 

The cause to rectify past wrongs has become a cause celebre in the Asian/American communities.

“For the hundreds of thousands of Filipino and Filipino American veterans who fought courageously for our country, we celebrate Congress’ passage of the Congressional Gold Medal Act and look forward to President Obama signing this legislation,” said National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) National Director Christopher Kang.
The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian honor bestowed by the U.S Congress.

Johanna Puno Hester, APALA National President, stated: “Our community has been waiting for over seventy years to be recognized for their service. This is a tremendous win to distinguish our community’s bravery and service in history. We are extremely thankful for the leadership of authors Senator Hirono and Representative Gabbard to see this important piece of legislation to fruition.”
"Now we can tell our veterans with pride in our hearts that this grateful nation has, at last, granted them recognition for the selfless sacrifice they endured in war, and restored their dignity and honor in service to their nation," said Taguba in a statement.