At the installation of the new officers of Filipino American Post 509 led by retired Col. Emilio O. Hidalgo as Commander, Rodriguez, a retired sergeant of the U.S. Marine Corps, in his inspirational remarks, said the dwindling number of the Fil Am veterans group cannot be helped.
But they can always keep the post open by reaching out to other veterans from Korea, Vietnam and others by inviting them to come to the post and see what they are doing.
Rodriguez, Commander, 2nd District Council, American Legion, Department of Illinois, 2011-2012, and who is married to a Filipina, said that he observed World War II veterans diminishing in numbers as the result of members being busy raising a family, too sick to attend meeting or are dead. He said they can always invite women veterans to visit their post. “We cannot just allow this post to close. You have to keep this open.”
Rodriguez also paid tribute to victims of 9/11 and the first responders and the members of the military, “who have kept us strong.”
Post 509 Historian Arcadio V. Calabas said that six members of the post were too sickly to attend the installation.
Aside from Colonel Hidalgo, the others inducted into office were Emilio N. Garcera as Sr. Vice Commander and Adjutant; Mariano M. Nazareno, Jr. Vice Commander; Juan A. Millo, Judge Advocate; Dr. Crispin P. Echiverri, Finance Officer and Service Officer; Catalino P. Macarulay, Chaplain; Arcadio Calabas, Historian; Isabelo P. Campollo, Sergeant-at-Arms. Jose V. Juachon and Jesus S. Groyon, Historians; and Brigido P. Tueres, Sergeant-at-Arms, did not make it to the installation.
In his response as Post Commander, Hidalgo appealed to members of the Post to close ranks and try their best to accomplish the mission of the Post.
Skokie Commissioner Jerry Clarito, a son of a Filvet, in a message, challenged the newly installed officers “to be active in electing officers. Step up to continue the mission of Post 509. Without you, the mission will just die. You should go out and vote in local and national elections. If you do not participate, there will be chaos.
“Your participation in World War II protected the flag and affirmed the democratic processes. But today is still a sad day because justice (in granting benefits to other veterans has not yet been realized.) Many of the veterans, who applied for equity compensation, were denied benefits for any reason. H.R. 210 or Filipino Veterans Fairness Act of 2011 introduced by Rep. Jackie Speier [D-CA-12] is asking the Department of Veterans Affairs to use other lists to be considered for the benefit. At present, only those whose names of veterans listed in the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri are granted the $15,000 lump sum for American citizens while the non-American citizens are given $9,000.
So far, there are 54 congresspersons, who co-sponsored the bill. They include six from Illinois, namely Representatives Danny Davis [D-IL-7], Luis V. Gutierrez [D-IL-4], Jesse L. Jackson, Jr., [D-IL-2], Daniel Lipinski [D-IL-3], Bobby L. Rush [D-IL-1] and Jan D. Schakowsky [D-IL-9].
Clarito urged the veterans to write a letter of thanks to these co-sponsors and urged the legislators to convince their colleagues to support H.R. 210. He also asked the veterans to write a petition of support to the bill to Illinois Senators Dick Durbin [D] and Mark Kirk [R], and Representatives Judy Biggert [R-IL-13] and Peter J. Roskam [R-IL-6] and the other 19 Illinois congressmen, who have not yet come aboard so sign up in the bill.
In his opening remarks, Post 509 Jr. Vice Commander Mariano M. Nazareno challenged his fellow officers to overcome “attempts to impede the principles and ideals they have been formed for.”
Margi Garcera Laurel, granddaughter of Sr. Vice Commander Emilio N. Garcera, sang a-cappella the Filipino song, “Ako Ay Pilipino,” while Chaplain Catalino Macarulay delivered the invocation and closing prayers during ceremonies emceed by Renee L. Altman, Past President, Auxiliary Post 509, American Legion. (firstname.lastname@example.org)