“Today, our country’s prosperity and the freedoms we enjoy are due in large measure to the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who fought valiantly in America’s wars,” says Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (Ret), FilVetREP Chairman. “In this day of remembrance, we honor them and their families who lost their loved ones in battle. They made the ultimate sacrifice.”
One way to honor them on Memorial Day, Taguba adds, is to “tell their stories, their courageous acts and uncommon valor, and their duty to country.”
‘Duty to Country’
Since its founding on January 14, 2015, FilVetREP has raised national awareness about the wartime experience of Filipino and American WWll soldiers who fought in the Pacific War under the American flag in defense of the United States. On October 25, 2017, after more than 70 years, the U.S. finally recognized their service and sacrifice by awarding them the Congressional Gold Medal.
FilVetREP is now building a digital educational project to highlight the historic significance of the Congressional Gold Medal and the 260,000 Filipino and American Soldiers who fought for recognition. Called “Duty to Country – A Broken Promise,” this web‐based, digital interactive educational program will chronicle the critical role these soldiers played in defending freedom and democracy and demonstrate their story as an important part of American history. “Duty to Country” will feature testimonies by Filipino veterans still living today. These oral histories convey lessons of honor, duty, patriotism, service and valor of soldiers who endured injustice and discrimination when the U.S. Congress passed the Rescission Acts of 1946.
Among the veterans sharing their stories in “Duty to Country” is Rodolfo Panaglima of Washington, D.C. He was only 13 years old when he joined his father in a Filipino guerrilla unit that worked in secret with the US Army during World War II.
His youth helped Panaglima sneak past Japanese forces as a courier and scout, bringing back information, food and medicine to US soldiers in the mountains of the Philippines, near his home in Cagayan. Panaglima is now 87 years old.
Celestino Almeda, who will turn 103 in June, served as a 3rd Lieutenant in the Philippine Commonwealth Army, and later as a Recognized Guerrilla with the US Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) commanded by General Douglas MacArthur. He presently resides in Gaithersburg, MD. with his son’s family.
“We hope to connect their stories to the younger generation and give them a sense of pride knowing that a rich legacy has been passed on to them,” says Taguba. “But to preserve these memories for posterity, we need the generous support of the American public to make Duty to Country a reality. The Filipino and American Soldiers of World War II who fought in the Philippines did so to preserve our freedom and way of life for the past 76 years. We must do our part to preserve their story through education and public information.”
The Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP), is a nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, community-based, all-volunteer national initiative whose mission is to obtain national recognition of Filipino and American WW11 soldiers across the United States and the Philippines for their wartime service to the U.S. and the Philippines from July 26, 1941 to December 31, 1946. For more information about Filipino WWII veterans and how to get involved, visit our website at www.filvetrep.org or find us on Facebook or Twitter.