NEW YORK – It took 75 years of injustice and humiliation before Filipino World War II veterans regained their honor and dignity when Congress passed the Congressional Gold Medal Act — a historic bill which former President Barack Obama signed into law on December 14, 2016.
As a final step of full recognition, on October 25, 2017 at 11 a.m., the U.S. House and Senate will present a Congressional Gold Medal in honor of these veterans for their service and sacrifice during the war at a ceremony to be held in the Emancipation Hall. It will be live-streamed on speaker.gov/live.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will take part in the bipartisan, bicameral ceremony.
From July 1941 to December 1946, 260,000 Filipino and Filipino-American soldiers served and fought for the United States and the Philippines to topple Axis powers during World War II. In July of 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt called all organized military forces of the Philippines into the service of the United States. Their bravery, heroism, and dedication played an integral part in leading Allied powers to victory over Nazi and fascist forces.
The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian honor the United States can bestow. In accordance with Public Law No: 114-265 , a single gold medal has been minted and will be given to the Smithsonian Institution and made available for display and research.
About 20,000 bronze will be distributed to surviving veterans or next of kin survivors. This includes Filipino veterans of World War II who served as Philippine Scouts, members of the Philippine Commonwealth Army, the Philippine Constabulary and recognized guerillas during the period beginning on July 26, 1941, and ending on December 31, 1946.
While the U.S. Senate unanimously approved on July 13, 2016 the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act authored by Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), the U.S. House of Representatives, sponsored by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, approved it on November 30, 2016.
In a statement, the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP) said it spearheaded the national campaign to secure this long-delayed recognition. It is the officially-designated liaison to the U.S. Mint, which handles the design and minting of the Congressional Gold Medal.
Plans for the presentation and distribution of bronze replicas at a dinner event following the ceremony are underway. FilVetREP said it is organizing this national celebration, which will be held Wednesday evening at the Ritz Carlton in Tysons Corner, Va.