Why Pinoy WWII vets’ long wait for recognition may be over

WASHINGTON, DC –  After over seven decades of waiting, Filipino World War II veterans may soon get the formal recognition for their roles in World War II and for their service and contributions to America.

“All they ever hoped for is a national recognition and they have earned it,” said retired Major General Antonio Taguba.

A bipartisan and bicameral group of lawmakers in Washington, DC introduced a bill Thursday that would grant the Congressional Gold Medal to World War II veterans who fought side by side with American soldiers in wars for liberation.

This bipartisan legislation acknowledges more than 260,000 Filipino veterans who fought under the US flag against the Japanese Imperial Forces during World War II.

The bill’s introduction was announced during a press conference at the Capitol.

Democratic US Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii said, “These loyal and valiant men and women fought, suffered, and in many instances died in the same manner and under the same commander as other members of our United States Armed Forces during World War II.”

The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest expression of appreciation awarded to persons who have performed an achievement that impacts American history and culture.

Republican US Representative JoeHeck of Nevada said, “This recognition is long overdue for our Filipino and Filipino American veterans, without whom we probably would not have seen victory in the Pacific theater.”

Jesse Baltazar, 94, is a Veteran of three wars and a survivor of the Bataan Death March.

He was a recipient of the Purple Heart Award last January.

“I’m sure glad that’s finally happening. I’m used to waiting just like I waited for my Purple Heart for 73 years. Now this is coming. I’m sure thankful something’s being done for us to get it,” said Baltazar.

Remigio Cabacar, also a Purple Heart awardee and a retired senior chief petty officer, said, “I’m hoping that it will materialize, and thank you thank you very much.”

A key leader in this effort is Retired Major General Antonio Taguba.

He said, “Over 70 years they’ve been waiting, despite the fact their benefits were rescinded in 1946 by the same Congress that we’re asking to recognize them with the Congressional Gold Medal. So this is history in the making.,” he said.

Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia Jr. also expressed his hope for the bill to move forward, saying that these veterans fought for freedom and liberation during the wars and they deserve the recognition.

You can contact Don Tagala at don_tagala@absc-cbn.com for more information.

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