The Congressional Gold Medal
The Congressional Gold Medal (CGM) is an award bestowed by Congress and is the highest civilian award in the United States. The decoration is awarded to an individual or unit who performs an outstanding deed or act of service to the security, prosperity, and national interest of the United States. Since the American Revolution, Congress has commissioned gold medals as its highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions. Each medal can honor a particular individual, institution, or event. Although the first recipients included citizens who participated in the American Revolution, the War of 1812 and the Mexican- American War, Congress broadened the scope of the medal to include actors, authors, entertainers, musicians, pioneers in aeronautics and space, explorers, lifesavers, no- tables in science and medicine, athletes, humanitarians, public servants, and foreign recipients. The U.S. Mint designs a special and unique medal to commemorate the achievement of the recipient of the award.
Public Law 114-265
In accordance with Public Law 114-265, the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015 awards a Congressional Gold Medal (CGM) collectively to the Filipino Veterans of World War II , in recognition of their outstanding wartime achievements and honorable service to the United States during World War II.
By law, the Secretary of the Treasury and the U.S. Mint are tasked by the U.S. Congress with the design, minting and circulation of Congressional Gold Medals. In this case, the U.S. Mint designed and struck a CGM specifically to honor and commemorate the Filipino, American, and Filipino American Veterans of World War II for whom the medal is awarded. The medal is distinguishable in appearance and portrays the historical significance and accomplishments of the veterans. Congressional Gold Medals are also considered “non-portable”’ meaning they are not meant to be worn on the uniform or other clothing. The Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal is one-of-a-kind: an original and true symbol of honor, valor, integrity and selfless service to our Nation.
About the CGM Design
The Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project led by Major General Tony Taguba, US Army Retired, worked extensively with the U.S. Mint Project Team. We worked with the Project’s academic advisory team, living WWII veterans and U.S. Mint’s design team. On the review of the original 43 medal designs of the obverse (front) and reverse (back), the groups selected 4 designs of the obverse, and 1 design of the reverse. FilVetREP was tasked with reviewing the selected designs to ensure they met specific criteria: historically accurate design and inscriptions and correct design elements (uniform, insignias, weapons, etc).
On June 15, 2017, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (“CFA”) deliberated on and approved the CGM obverse and reverse designs preferred by FilVetREP, subject to FilVetREP’s proposed minor modifications. Similarly, on June 21, 2017, the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (“CCAC”) deliberated on and approved the same designs, subject to FilVetREP’s proposed minor modifications. After extensive reviews of the CGM designs, and consistent with the recommendations of the CCAC and the CFA, the final designs of the obverse and reverse of the CGM as shown on this page were approved by the Secretary of the Treasury on August 25, 2017, and produced by the U.S. Mint.
The obverse is very distinctive in depicting faces of soldiers and guerrillas in their period uniforms, headgear, and weapons in representing the Philippine Commonwealth Army, Philippine Scouts, First Filipino Infantry Regiment, Second Filipino Infantry Battalion, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, and Recognized Guerrillas — units that comprised major combat forces of the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) from July 26,1941 to December 31, 1946.
The obverse also depicts a landscape scene of a U.S. Army soldier in a guard and defend position on a beachhead in Leyte during the liberation of the Philippines — a Commonwealth or territory of the United States, in October 20, 1944. The reverse highlights the theme “Duty to Country” — the core value inherent in citizenship, patriotism, courage, honor, selfless service, integrity of men and women who willingly served their country in defense of freedom and liberty. The thousands of soldiers who fought and died in battle in the Philippines over a 4-year period did so with un- common valor and intrepidity. The four major campaigns inscribed on the reverse — Bataan and Corregidor, Luzon, Leyte, and Southern Philippines were fought in an archipelago of over 7,000 islands that exemplified the herculean mission of U.S. troops defending a key nation in the war in the Pacific. The dates emblazoned on the scroll below the campaign: 1941-Japanese attack of the Philippines, 1945 — liberation of the Philippines and defeat of Japanese Imperial Forces, and 1946 — end of war and passage of the Rescission Acts by Congress which revoked veterans benefits and payments to the Filipino soldiers, and denied them of their U.S. citizenship evoke the period of desperation, humiliation, and daunting experience of the Filipino Veterans of World War II (the “WWII Veterans”) on their wartime service.
The CGM Ceremony
For 75 years, the WWII Veterans remained proud, steadfast, and loyal to the United States despite the injustice, discrimination, and sense of inferiority they suffered after the war. They had waited all these long years and envisioned the day the United States and Congress would finally recognize them for their wartime accomplishments. They will not be forgotten, but will be remembered eternally.
Bronze replicas of the Congressional Gold Medal will be made available for purchase at the U.S. Mint. The cost of the three inch medal and display case is approximately $52.00.
FilVetREP Policy Change on the Congressional Gold Medal Awards
The Congressional Gold Medal (CGM), the highest award bestowed by U.S. Congress to an individual or group who contributed immeasurably to American history and culture, honors the service and sacrifice of Filipino and American World War II veterans.
On November 30, 2016, the United States Congress passed the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015 (S.1555). This historic event in American history is the culmination of 75 years of effort to secure recognition for the 260,000 soldiers who fought under the American flag from July 26,1941 to December 31, 1946.
The Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP), headed by Major General Antonio M. Taguba, U.S. Army Retired, led a nationwide campaign to achieve the nation’s highest civilian award.
Since its implementation in Oct 25, 2017, FilVetREP has conducted more than ninety ceremonies across the U.S., Hawaii, and Alaska. Similar ceremonies have also been held in the Philippines. To date, more than 5,000 (?) living veterans and next-of-kin have received this medal.
CGM Awards Presentations
While Congress approved this award, it only appropriated funds for the minting of a single gold CGM. FilvetREP had to raise funds to purchase bronze replicas of CGM from the U.S. Mint. In addition to the cost of bronze replicas, the production costs for conducting CGM award ceremonies have also been funded by FilVetREP.
In 2020, the U.S. Mint increased the cost of a CGM bronze replica. The original value of the CGM set (CGM with case plus souvenir program and PL) was set at $100.00. In Jan 2020, the US Mint increased the price of the CGM and case to $160 each and $35 each, respectively. A complete set, which includes a case, a copy of Public Law 114-265, a copy of the souvenir program and shipping, now costs $235.
Moreover, a small ceremony (10-15 recipients) is costing FilVetREP an average of $5000.00, while a large ceremony (20 to 100) can cost up to 27,000.00.
Other expenses associated with awards presentations include audio visual costs for virtual and hybrid productions.
In a few instances, donors, community organizations and some families have helped subsidize these award presentations.
Given these factors, FilVetREP is now faced with financial challenges. Since mid-2020, FilVetREP’s budget reflected an estimated loss of 60% to 70% in revenue due to lack of donations/repayments to equate what was expended up front. The year 2021 did not generate a breakeven point.
FILVETREP’s funding stream was shifted in 2019 to prioritize the “Duty to Country” education project and, with attempts to draw down the CGM award events. However, the funding for Duty to Country’s budget was accounted from generous sponsors and matching funds income, but not from any revenue generated by the CGM awards event. This situation has generated a confused and uneven budget situation that threatens Duty to Country and future programs (Repeal the Rescission Act) and potential exhibition of the Congressional Gold Medal at the National Museum of the U.S. Army.
FilVetREP is committed to conducting CGM award ceremonies but they will be limited in nature. The CGM is a symbol of recognition and honor, but we need recipients’ help to support the need.
After careful deliberation and consideration by the Board on February 19, 2022, FilVetREP has instituted the following policy, effective April 2022:
Next-of-Kin (NOK) recipients, whose applications have been approved, will initiate and purchase the CGM set directly from the U.S. Mint and pay FILVETREP in advance for the souvenir program and PL 114-265. Visit https://catalog.usmint.gov/filipino-veterans-of-world-war-ii-bronze-medal-MASTER_MLFV.html#start=1
The awards event will be conducted virtually. It will be funded by FilVetREP, with the help of donors and sponsors.
- Annual ceremony at the Bataan Memorial Death March event at Las Cruces/White Sands. Decision by the Board to hold CGM awards in-person with approved recipients will be considered on a case by case basis.
- A scheduled funded annual fundraising event. If additional funds are available to perform a CGM award ceremony such as Veterans Day event or similar event, the Board will decide on the whether to include a CGM award ceremony.
- A severely ill or dying WWII veteran whose wishes will be honored. This is on a case by case basis whereby a standing policy in FILVETREP states that a living Veteran will not pay for his CGM set.
- Any exception such as a “grandfather provision” will not be considered.
This policy change will remain in effect until October 31, 2022. The Board will decide NLT Sept 30 whether to cease accepting CGM applications and conducting CGM award ceremonies altogether in December 2022.