MANILA — The Congressional Gold Medal is the U.S. Congress’ highest civilian honor.
“As we remember those who defended Bataan, those who fought in Corregidor, and those who liberated Manila, we pause to reflect and honor their lives and legacies,” said Ambassador Sung Y. Kim at the ceremony last September 13.
It marked the first time the honor was presented on Philippine soil.
“What they have freely given is beyond our power to repay but on this day and at this time, we recognize our debt for their sacrifices with deep respect and profound appreciation.”
In July 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt called over 250,000 Filipinos into service with U.S. military units and guerilla forces in the defense of the Philippines. Between July 1941 and December 1946, Philippine service members fought with the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) and under the command of General Douglas MacArthur, Major General Jonathan Wainwright, and Major General Edward King.
Many gave their lives in the defense of their homeland and in service to the United States.
“It is of great honor and pride to be bestowed the Congressional Gold Medal by the United States Congress,” said Col. Paterno Viloria, Philippine Army, retired.
“I am overjoyed that after more than seven decades, we Filipino Veterans of World War II, who fought side by side the United States Armed Forces, are finally getting the honor and recognition we deserve for our bravery and heroism, and our selfless sacrifice and dedicated service during the war.”
Congress passed the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act in November 2016 and President Obama signed the bill into law in December of the same year.
The first ceremony was held in the U.S. Capitol building in Washington D.C. on October 25, 2017.
The Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) will hold regional ceremonies around the Philippines. The regional ceremonies will give Veterans and their families the opportunity to honor and celebrate the wartime service and sacrifices of Filipino Veterans of World War II.