America’s Broken Promise to the Philippines
During World War II, more than 260,000 Filipino and Filipino American soldiers answered President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s call to defend the United States and the Philippines during World War II. The bravery and sacrifice of these soldiers were integral to American victory in the Pacific. Instead of being recognized for their wartime service and sacrifice, the Rescission Acts of 1947 revoked the US nationality status of 200,000 Filipino WWII soldiers and their promised compensation.
Despite the injustice, discrimination, and sense of inferiority they suffered after the war, these veterans remained proud, steadfast, and loyal to the United States. In May 2013, the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP) was formed to create a national campaign to raise awareness through academic research and public education and obtain national recognition of the Filipino-American WWII soldiers for their wartime service to the United States and Philippines from July 1941 to December 1946. FilVetREP’s plan comprises two phases:
Phase 1: Passage of the Congressional Gold Medal
The tireless efforts of members of FivetREP, partners, and sponsors for their grassroots campaign eventually led to the passage of the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2016 by the Senate and House of Representatives. The measure was signed into law by President Obama on December 14, 2016.
On October 25, 2017, Former House Speaker Paul Ryan awarded the Congressional Gold Medals to the Veterans and Families at the Emancipation Hall at Capitol Hill, Washington D.C. This once in a lifetime experience has brought together 600 comrades who have not seen each other since World War II and their loved ones from across the country. After 75 years, the Filipino American WWII veterans finally received the recognition they earned and deserve.
Following the congressional presentation at Emancipation Hall, FilVetREP has held its own ceremonies to individually present bronze replicas of medal and a copy of Public Law 114-265 to living veterans or their next of kin. However, there are more than 10,000 living veterans across our country who haven’t yet been recognized for their sacrifices and we are committed to honor and celebrate their military service and legacy. FilVetREP will continue to add names to the National Registry to ensure that all living veterans and next of kin of deceased veterans will receive their medals.
National organizations and veterans advocacy groups joined as partners and supporters
Award Ceremonies held across the U.S. and in the Philippines
Medals awarded at no cost to the veteran, their spouse, or their next-of-kin
Phase 2: National Digital Education Program
It is imperative for FilVetREP and our entire community to jointly support and embrace this important initiative. We must not forget their battle for recognition, the injustice and discrimination they suffered, of being deprived of promised benefits, and for having lived a lifetime of adversity and indignation. We must tell their story before they all pass away. We must preserve their legacy for this generation and for the future. Their story and fight for recognition will be forever enshrined in American history.
We owe the Veterans an eternal debt of gratitude. We must accomplish this mission!