FilVets gather to honor prisoners of war in the Bataan Death March
SAN FRANCISCO — 76 years ago, on April 9th, 1942, US and Philippines forces surrendered to the Japanese and began the transfer of over 60,000 prisoners of war — which would be called the Bataan Death March.
While the US would go on to win World War II thanks to its allies, especially the Philippines, the Bataan Death March would go down in history as one of the most notorious acts of the war.
To mark that occasion, at the San Francisco National Cemetery, the public gathered to remember those of the march.
Remaining Filipino WWII veterans along with the families of the deceased were present for the ceremony.
“76 years may seem like a long time ago but we still have survivors from the Bataan Death March today. They’re perishing every day. It’s important that we remember,” said Maj. Gen. Garrett Yee.
One way to ensure that memory is through educating the youth.
The Bataan Legacy Historical Society was instrumental in having the California board of education approve policy that requires the WWII experience in the Philippines, be taught in grade 11 US history.
However, they say California classrooms are not enough.
“We are hoping the community joins us in making sure that this happens across the United States because this is a seminal part of U.S. history,” said Cecilia Gaerlan.
Following the outdoor ceremony, US Army generals awarded bronze replicas of the congressional gold medal to the remaining Filipino WWII veterans and to the families of the deceased veterans.