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House Approves Bill to Award Filipino Veterans Congressional Gold Medal

November 30, 2016, 1:40 PM HST (Updated November 30, 2016, 1:45 PM)
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Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, left, and Sen. Mazie Hirono. Courtesy photos.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, left, and Sen. Mazie Hirono. Courtesy photos.

The House of Representatives today unanimously passed the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act (S.1555), sponsored by Sen. Mazie K. Hirono and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed the bill in July, which recognizes Filipino soldiers who fought under U.S. command during World War II.

S.1555, the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act, awards 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.

“For months, we have said that time is running out to recognize Filipino World War II veterans for their brave service,” said Sen. Hirono. “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.”

“Today, the United States Congress took an historic step forward in honoring the more than 200,000 Filipino and Filipino-American soldiers that served our country during World War II,” said Rep. Gabbard. “With unanimous support from the United State Congress, our bill now heads to the President’s desk. Our Filipino WWII veterans have waited decades for this recognition alongside units like the Tuskegee Airmen and Hawai‘i’s own 442nd/100th Infantry Battalion with the Congressional Gold Medal—our nation’s highest civilian honor. 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.”

“Today is truly a great day, a significant seminal period in American history—second only to the liberation of the Philippines and surrender of the Japanese Imperial Forces on August 15, 1945,” said Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (retired.), chairman of the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP). “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.”

“For the hundreds of thousands of Filipino and Filipino American veterans who fought courageously for our country, we celebrate Congress’ passage of the Congressional Gold Medal Act and look forward to President Obama signing this legislation,” said National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) National Director Christopher Kang. “We thank Sen. Hirono and Rep. Gabbard for their longtime leadership in recognizing our heroes. The passage of this law is significant in showing our immense gratitude for the men and women who made great sacrifices to serve our country, and awarding the highest civilian honor will ensure that history will always remember them.”

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“Sen. Mazie Hirono and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard have been instrumental in getting the Congressional Gold Medal for the World War II Filipino veterans,” said Ben Acohido, service officer, VFW Post 1572 1st Filipino Infantry Regiment, U.S. Army, Veterans of Foreign Wars-Hawaii Chapter. “Senator Hirono and Representative Gabbard’s leadership is appreciated in finally getting the recognition for the veterans nearly 75 years after the attack on Pearl Harbor and Manila.”

The bill now heads to the president for his signature.

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