By Monica Galozo, ABS-CBN NEWS
NORFOLK, VA — “I shall return.”
This was the promise of General Douglas MacArthur when he left the Philippines in 1942, assuring the Filipino people of his return. He fulfilled this promise on October 20, 1944 when he landed in Leyte, leading to the end of the Japanese occupation in the Philippines.
This event and General MacArthur’s historic role in the liberation of the Philippines and other Asian countries are now featured in an exhibit at the MacArthur Memorial Museum in Norfolk, Virginia.
“The current exhibit that we have is called LEGACIES, the MacArthur in Asia. So if you see for example behind me here, we have stuff from the Philippine-American war. We got stuff in the galleries here about the McArthurs escape from the Philippines and Filipino resistance,” said Chris Kaklowski, director of the MacArthur Museum.
The MacArthur Memorial is a museum and research center dedicated to preserving and presenting the story of the life of General Douglas MacArthur. The main memorial is where General Mcarthur and his wife, Gene, were buried.
Recently, the Filipino-American community in the Hampton Roads area commemorated the 75th anniversary of MacArthur’s return to the Philippines by dedicating a garden to the Gene MacArthur Research Center.
The research center houses the general’s personal archives, memorabilia and collections.
The Douglas MacArthur Foundation has been in existence for more than 50 years, and according to Col. Bill Davis, retired US Marine Corps and the foundation’s Executive Director, one of the strongest relationships they have is with the Filipino-American community within Hampton Roads.
“Because of the role of General MacArthur in Philippine History, we have many many visitors, in fact, a large percentage of foreign visitors to the museum and the research center are from the Philippines,” said Col. Bill Davis.
“Of the 50,000 visitors we get a year, 1 in 5 are foreign and vast majority of them are Filipinos coming to be here, and to visit here.”
Indeed, the MacArthur Memorial Museum is as much a part of Filipino history and identity as it is American, in its own way.