WAIKIKI, HI — It has been seven months since the formal awarding of the congressional gold medal to all Filipino veterans of World War II in Washington DC.
But for these Filipino veterans of Hawaii, they are getting their own awarding ceremony, after waiting for over 70 years to get recognized by a country they served in World War II.
“This is an incredible moments especially for Hawaii,” said Maj. Gen. Tony Taguba. “We have 137 recipients tonight. 41 are living WWII veterans and about 96 next of kin. Second to only what we had in Washington DC.”
Elected officials and community leaders said it was important for them to show how much they honor and respect the sacrifices of these Filipino veterans.
“The Filipino community is a very vibrant community and the leadership is very strong throughout all islands across this state but tonight to honor uncles: 95, 92, 93 years-old strong just to recognize them, honor them is very important,” said Kauai County Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.
The medal the veterans and their families are receiving is a bronze replica which costs approximately $52.
“We have been able to fundraise for the medals and also for tonight’s event. We are subsidizing the dinner extensively,” said Amy Agbayani.
It was a bill that was introduced by Hawaii’s senator Mazie Hirono and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard that was eventually passed and signed into law by Hawaii-born President Barack Obama, that granted the congressional gold medal to the Filipino WWII veterans.
Hawaii legislators of Filipino descent also had a hand in passing the bill, and they say their work continues.
“Here in the state legislature we’ve passed resolutions to support this as well. So we’re just very, very humbled to be part of this whole process,” said State Rep. Henry Aquino.
“We also just in the legislature last year we appropriated money for a World War II Filipino memorial where we are looking for space to put up with our OVS office, Offices of Veterans Services,” said Rep. Ty Cullen.
While tonight saw a recognition of a number of Filipino World War II veterans, there is still a call out of Hawaii-Filipino soldiers of the 1st and 2nd regiment of the US Army who still need to be acknowledged for their services.
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