comscore House OKs Congressional Gold Medal for World War II veterans of Filipino descent | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
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House OKs Congressional Gold Medal for World War II veterans of Filipino descent

  • JAMM AQUINO / 2015

    Major General Antonio Taguba spoke during an informational briefing for Filipino veterans at the Oahu Veterans Center in Moanalua.

The U.S. House unanimously voted today to pass a measure that honors World War II Filipinos and Filipino-Americans with the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award by Congress.

“Today, the United States Congress took a historic step forward in honoring the more than 200,000 Filipino and Filipino-American soldiers that served our country during World War II,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard in a news release.

The measure will now be sent to President Barack Obama to be signed.

In the release, retired Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, chairman of the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project, said, “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.

The House recently acquired more than the required 290 co-sponsors on the companion bill before today’s floor vote.

In July, the Senate passed a bill authored by U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono in July to honor Filipino WWII veterans with the congressional award.

In the news release, Hirono said, “For months, we have said that time is running out to recognize Filipino World War II veterans for their brave service.”

“Today’s House passage is the culmination of decades of work by these veterans and their families to recognize their key role in the Allied victory, and their decades-long fight for benefits.”

There are approximately 18,000 Filipino WWII veterans alive in the U.S. Hawaii’s congressional leaders have been pushing for the measure as most veterans are in their 90s.

During WWII, over 260,000 Filipino and Filipino-American soldiers responded to President Franklin Roosevelt’s “call-to-duty.”

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    • Well deserved. But having to pay them for fighting for their own homeland against a Japan that had slaughtered their civilians and had occupied the 7,000 islands? No. They should have fought without pay for that. Do we need to pay the Navajo who fought for their homeland and played a critical role as code inventors and soldiers?

      • If we pull no punches, then we may as well send a bill to Douglas MacArthur’s estate and heirs for a strategically worthless fight merely to enable him to make good on his declaration, “I shall return.” The battle for Manila, especially, needlessly squandered the lives of many Filipinos and American (and Japanese) soldiers. The military liberation of the Philippines was largely politically motivated and only by the most convoluted logic can be said to have shortened the Pacific War.

        (MacArthur would later display his sterling generalship by directing events that culminated in the bitter retreat from the Chosin Reservoir in 1950, where the First Marine Division and a few thousand hapless U.S. Army troops would have been annihilated if not for U.S. air supremacy at the time.)

    • It matters to Filipino vets and their families and that is what’s most important:

      “Today is truly a great day, a significant seminal period in American history – second only to the liberation of the Philippines and surrender of the Japanese Imperial Forces on August 15, 1945,” says Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (Ret), chairman of the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP). “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.”

  • Well, it’s a gesture anyway. But restoring their dignity and honor? Those qualities come from within. Doing battle within their own country during wartime should not have diminished or caused the loss of either.

  • This is pure political pandering and BS. During most of the 220 years since the Gold Medal was established, the recipients were mostly individuals until members of Congress discovered they could make points with many of their constituents by introducing resolutions to award the medal to specific ethnic or minority groups. The black Tuskegee Airmen got theirs, Soldiers of Japanese ancestry in the 100th Battalion of the 442nd and Military Intelligence Service got theirs, Navajo and other Native American code talkers got theirs, members of the Hispanic 65th Infantry Regiment got theirs, the Women Airforce Service pilots got theirs, members of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders got theirs and Filipino veterans of World War II will now get theirs. What about the millions of other men and women who served with distinction in World War II, the majority being simply Americans? They are just as deserving of the Congressional Gold Medal as the aforementioned groups. Congress should award one Congressional Gold Medal to recognize and honor anyone who served in World War II and be done with it.

  • GEN Taguba, outstanding job, for you and your working group. Congratulations. Local boy who has done an excellent job in the Military and beyond. Yes, I do have your outstanding report on Abu Ghraib, Iraq (Secret/No Foreign Dissemination).

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