by Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN News
The Los Angeles Philippine Consulate opened its month-long World War II exhibit, as part of its celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Bataan Death March.
For the Pinoy WWII veterans now in their 90s, the event brought back memories from the past.
“It’s very familiar to us veterans,” said Eliseo Tominez. “That was 75 years — so they’re displaying our uniform before.”
The exhibit showcases artifacts — newspaper clippings and uniforms from the WWII era — hoping to educate visitors on the plight of the veterans, while honoring their sacrifices.
The exhibit will be on all month — and while it will raise awareness, the consulate is also hoping to raise funds to help the Filipino WWII veterans get their long awaited congressional medals of honor.
“It is up to us to come up with the necessary funding, so we can give each and every surviving Filipino WWII veteran a congressional gold medal,” said Consul General Adel Cruz. “One gold medal costs 50 dollars.”
So far, Cruz has already received $6,000 in pledges, and will issue directions on how the donations will work.
In the meantime, the fight for veterans equity continues.
Justice for Filipino American Veterans’ Art Garcia has just returned from lobbying efforts in Washington DC, hoping to restore the pension and benefits these veterans have fought for.
“It’s the Filipino Veterans Fairness act; we have to introduce it this summer,” Garcia said. “So that will be the next move, and we will not let up lobbying, and even though this gold medal is given, it’s only a step. It’s only a formal recognition, giving a medal… but the formal recognition that will give them pension as an American veteran. It should be passed as a law.”
And while the fight remains strong for these veterans on many fronts, there’s a sad reality that these veterans are passing away.
One veteran — Nicholas Casipe — who was eager to share his story at the exhibit had passed away the day before the ceremony.