Maui News

Filipino Veterans Presented Congressional Gold Medals

October 25, 2017, 2:44 PM HST
* Updated October 25, 2:46 PM
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Congresswoman Gabbard addresses attendees at the Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony. Photo Courtesy

House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senator Hirono, Congresswoman Gabbard, and Congressional leaders present the Congressional Gold Medal. Photo Courtesy

Senator Hirono, Major General (Retired) Tony Taguba, and Hawaii attendees at the Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony. Photo Courtesy

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and Senator Mazie K. Hirono joined other US Congressional leaders to present the Congressional Gold Medal to Filipino World War II veterans today at the US Capitol.

The ceremony was the culmination of Rep. Gabbard and Sen. Hirono’s years-long effort to recognize Filipino World War II veterans with the Congressional Gold Medal, Congress’ highest civilian honor.

In attendance were 20 Hawaii veterans and family members.

“The United States is forever grateful for the service, bravery, and perseverance of the more than 200,000 Filipino and Filipino American soldiers that served our country during World War II,” said Rep. Gabbard. “These loyal and courageous soldiers suffered hardships, fought bravely, and sacrificed greatly, with many giving up their lives alongside their American counterparts throughout the war, yet their service was left unrecognized in the United States for decades.  Today, these brave soldiers are finally receiving the recognition they earned and deserve, and join the ranks of heroic units like the Tuskegee Airmen and Hawaii’s own 442nd/100th Infantry Battalion as we honor them with the Congressional Gold Medal—our nation’s highest civilian honor.”

“Presenting the Congressional Gold Medal to our Filipino World War II veterans is a long overdue honor for hundreds of thousands of veterans and their families,” said Sen. Hirono. “Last Veterans Day, Filipino World War II veteran Domingo Los Banos urged me to make sure our Congressional Gold Medal bill was passed that year. I hope that today’s ceremony conveyed to Domingo and every other veteran our gratitude for their service during the war and recognition of the hardship they face in receiving the benefits they earned.”

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Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) joined Gabbard and Sen. Hirono in presenting the medal.

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“Today, we recognize the extraordinary heroism and sacrifice of the Filipino Veterans of World War II by conferring the highest honor Congress can bestow,” said Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. “Generations of Americans and Filipinos alike have been shaped by their courage, inspired by their service and humbled by their sacrifice.  We are inspired not only by their bravery on the battlefield but also by the courage they have shown in fighting for the recognition they have earned but long been denied.  We must not rest until the service of every Filipino veteran is recognized and rewarded.”

Congresswoman Gabbard and Senator Hirono’s law, the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act (Public Law 114-265), was signed into law by President Obama and awarded the medal collectively to the over 260,000 Filipino and Filipino-American soldiers who responded to President Roosevelt’s call-to-duty and fought under the American flag during World War II.

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