MANILA- Thirteen Filipino World War II veterans were awarded Thursday with bronze replicas of the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor given out by the US Congress.
US Ambassador Sung Kim led the awarding ceremonies at the US Embassy in Manila, marking the first time the honor was presented in the Philippines.
“What they have freely given is beyond our power to repay, but on this day and at this time, we recognize our debt for their sacrifices with deep respect and profound appreciation,” Sung Kim said during the awarding ceremony.
The US Congress passed the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act in November 2016 and was signed into law by then President Barack Obama in December of the same year.
The recognition is in honor of Filipinos who fought alongside American soldiers during World War II, between 1941 and 1946.
The Embassy said the first awarding ceremony was held on October 25, 2017 in the US Capitol building in Washington.
“I am overjoyed that after more than seven decades, we Filipino Veterans of World War II, who fought side by side the United States Armed Forces, are finally getting the honor and recognition we deserve for our bravery and heroism, and our selfless sacrifice and dedicated service during the war," said retied Col. Paterno Viloria.
The Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) will hold regional ceremonies around the Philippines, the US Embassy said in a statement.