By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America Bureau
Aug. 29, 2014
LOS ANGELES–The Filipino Community of Los Angeles (FACLA) celebrated national heroes day on Thursday, aside from remembering the likes of Jose Rizal and Ninoy Aquino they also honored Filipino World War II veterans like 94-year-old Gregorio Albano.
While the former US Armed Forces in the Far East veteran has since gotten his lump sum payment, one honor has eluded him and his comrades; the US congressional Medal of Honor.
A cause that former US Army Major General turned veterans advocate Antonio Taguba is now fighting for.
“The benefits issue is still underway, but we want to go after a bigger objective which is US congress bestowing national recognition to them by passing a bill to award them the congressional gold medal which is the highest award you can bestow on a civilian or civilian group, most notably the filipino American veterans who fought during World War II,” said the retired Major General.
As Veterans and their leaders continue fighting for equal pensions and benefits for their spouses…they welcome the honor which Taguba says Filipinos are among the last of the ally countries to receive the congressional medal.
“We support that the medals should be given to people like me Albano because there are only few of them left in the United States armed forces in the Far East especially now out of the 40 thousand veterans to apply there are less than 25 thousand veterans in the Philippines and United States that are living right now,” said Arturo Garcia of Justice for Filipino American Veterans.
HR 111 which would grant the veterans the medals was introduced in Janurary of 2013 and has been in the House Committee on Financial services. After it makes it’s way thru congress, advocates would then create educational programs and the unique medal will eventually be made and given.
“Already we have about over 50 sponsors of members of congress, introduced the bill there just the concept and that might take 6 months to a year and that would be followed by a presentation at Washington, D.C. With the Speaker of the House who actually presides over the congressional gold medal then we’ll have a full on event to celebrate,” explained Taguba.
Taguba says as of August, there were at least 15 groups nationwide helping lobby for the medals which would also be given to veterans living in the Philippines.
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