Filipino and Filipino-American World War II veterans have more reason to celebrate after the US House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill honoring them with a Congressional Gold Medal.
The Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act (S.1555) was passed on November 30, 2016, and is now heading to President Barack Obama for his signature.
“For months, we have said that time is running out to recognize Filipino World War II veterans for their brave service. Today’s House passage is the culmination of decades of work by these veterans and their families to recognize their key role in the Allied victory, and their decades-long fight for benefits,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono.
S.1555, sponsored by Hirono and Representative Tulsi Gabbard, awards the medal collectively to the over 260,000 Filipino and Filipino-American soldiers who responded to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s call-to-duty and fought under the American flag during World War II.
"With just 18,000 of these Filipino World War II veterans still alive today, we cannot afford to wait any longer. I urge the President to sign this bill into law before the year’s end, and honor our veterans with this long-overdue recognition,” she said.
The US Senate unanimously passed the bill in July.
Retired Fil-Am Maj. General Antonio Taguba said the passage of the bill is a "significant seminal period in American history."
"Now we can tell our veterans with pride in our hearts that this grateful nation has, at last, granted them recognition for the selfless sacrifice they endured in war, and restored their dignity and honor in service to their nation,” said Taguba, chairman of the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP).
Jon Melegrito, an officer of the National Association of Filipino American Associations, also thanked Hirono, Gabbard and the 71 senators and 312 representatives who co-sponsored the bill.
"And to the FilAm community and various national groups and individuals who helped make this moment possible. And of course to Gen. Taguba and the FilVetREP team for leading this effort. Mabuhay ang mga beterano!" he said.