For serving our country in uniform, as President Biden noted in his message recognizing Filipino American History Month, these veterans ‘played an essential role in writing American history, working to make our country free and fair, just and strong, noble and whole.’ By preserving this history, future generations will see themselves proudly in the story of America.”
It is for this reason, Taguba points out, that FilVetREP’s education program, Duty to Country – Under One Flag, is a powerful venue to remind not only ourselves but the next generation, to carry on the legacy of these brave soldiers and honor their service and sacrifice.
DTC Educators Convening
On Oct 22, 2022, FilVetREP convened the first ever Duty to Country (DTC) teachers’ conference in Arlington, VA. More than a dozen teachers educators, administrators and community organizers from across the country met to learn about the award-winning online exhibit and curriculum. They shared ideas and insights on how to improve existing teaching resources, and discussed practical ways to adapt these materials for their students. FilVetREP will be working closely with these educators and teachers in the next 12 months as the project reaches out to school districts in as many states as possible to ensure that this program, which is accessible for free, will be widely used and taught in classrooms.
Congressional Gold Medal 6th Anniversary
FilVetREP also celebrated the 6th Anniversary of the Congressional Gold Medal, a historic achievement when Congress honored Filipino and American World War II veterans on Oct. 25, 2017 with this highest civilian award. “Celebrating this award means a lot to our veterans who were finally recognized for their service under the American flag after more than 70 years,” Taguba said. “Because many of them have died, we honored their families by presenting them the medals.”
Since 2017, FilVetREP held nearly 100 ceremonies across the U.S., Hawaii and Alaska. Similar ceremonies have also been held in the Philippines. To date, more than 5,000 veterans have been honored with this medal. On Oct. 22, seven more families received medals on behalf of their deceased fathers and grandfathers.
Repeal the Rescission Act
“We are committed to repeal the Rescission Act of 1946 – an act of Congress that tarnished the honor of our Filipino World War II veterans and brought pain and sorrow upon their lives and families for over 75 years,” Taguba has also asserted. At the October 22 event in Arlington, VA., Taguba decried “this act of Congress, which denied our veterans their promised benefits, revoked their path to citizenship, besmirched their identity and reputation, and took away their honor and dignity. We want to correct history to make it right for them. This is our clarion call for their ultimate recognition.”
FilVetREP was formed nine years ago with three goals: to secure the Congressional Gold Medal for the 270,000 veterans who served, to develop an online interactive educational program to preserve their historic legacy, and to repeal the 1946 Rescission Act.
“Having accomplished our first goal in 2016, we are currently expanding the education program, Duty to Country. Once this is completed, we will focus our energies on a national call to action to repeal the Rescission Act,” Taguba said. “We must close this dark chapter in U.S. history and restore the honor and dignity of our heroes who were betrayed by America’s broken promise.”
According to the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO), there are only 2,022 Filipino Veterans who are still alive, as of April 8, 2022, 236 of whom are over the century mark. Among the longest living veteran in the Washington, D.C. area, Celestino Almeda, died in April this year. He was 104.
In her keynote address at FilVetREP’s 6th anniversary celebration, Erika Moritsugu, Deputy Asst. to President Biden and Senior Liaison for Asian Americans Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, commended FilVetREP for securing the Congressional Gold Medal, for honoring the service and sacrifice of the 270,000 soldiers who fought under the American flag, and for its continued advocacy on behalf of Filipino World War II veterans.
“We must never forget their courage and grit. We must ensure their stories are not erased from history,” she said.
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.