SAN FRANCISCO — In front of a packed audience, six Filipino WWII veterans were honored for their bravery and sacrifices made over 70 years ago.
Aniano Triunfo will be turning 101 years old on November 17th, which is why he cherishes this occasion.
“I’m very happy because it’s a unique opportunity that I receive, at my age, an honor like this.”
Triunfo, along with his fellow veterans, were given the nation’s highest civilian award — the congressional gold medal by high ranking U.S. personnel.
“This is one of the last ones are in my opinion because as we all know, there are not too many of them left. And as you’ll see in today’s ceremony there’s just a handful of them. So if we just wait a few more months, I would just see probably the next of kin receiving this Congressional Gold Medal,” said Atty. Lou Tancinco.
Representatives from the city of San Francisco and the Philippine Consulate express their gratitude to the Filipino veterans.
“Recognition and respect should have been given the moment that the veteranos moved here, and their families. Our government should have done everything in the power to make that happen. Luckily the veternanos had the support of the Filipino community to write this wrong and it was their advocacy to make this event possible,” said Sup. Matt Haney.
“You represent the best of the Filipino nation. And you’re heroism shall forever be remembered and honored. Thank you all for your service. Pinoy ako. Proud ako!” said Con Gen Henry Bensurto.
According to the Bayanihan Equity Center, more than 67 ceremonies like this one have taken place in the U.S. and the Philippines.
For veteran advocates, each ceremony has been a long time coming, but special nonetheless.
“I saw in the face of one of the veterans when he was holding that medal, I think it’s a priceless moment. To them it was an embodiment of who we are and what we have done for this country. So somehow it’s a closure for them, and I’m glad we have done it as a community.”
Families of surviving or dead Filipino WWII veterans — who have yet to receive the replica of the congressional gold medal are encouraged to apply at filvetrep.org.