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EDITORIAL: Preserving our Filipino Veterans Legacy

After more than 75 years, Filipino World War II veterans were finally honored by the U.S. Government on October 25 with the Congressional Gold Medal, one of the highest civilian awards granted by Congress. Two dozen surviving veterans and the families of deceased veterans witnessed the historic event at Emancipation Hall in Capitol Hill.

Following the congressional ceremony, the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP) hosted a national celebration, where more than 300 veterans and their families were given individual award replicas. Each recipient was also given a copy of Public Law 114-265, which awards a Congressional Gold Medal, collectively, to the Filipino veterans of World War II, whose dedicated service is now enshrined in U.S. history.

Millions of visitors from all over the world who visit the National Museum of American History, where the Congressional Gold Medal will be permanently housed, will now learn something significant probably for the first time: the role 260,000 Filipino soldiers and guerrillas played in World War II, fighting under the American flag.

Meanwhile, the California-based Bataan Legacy Historical Society (BLHS) is unveiling its Lesson Plans for WWII in the Philippines to help implement part of the U.S. history curriculum framework for public schools in California. It was approved on July 14, 2016. California leads the rest of the country in making WWII in the Philippines an integral part of the U.S. history curriculum framework for high school students.

This California initiative will complement a digitized education program on Filipino World War II veterans, which will be established at the Smithsonian Institution.

Filipinos made up a majority of the U.S. Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) and thousands made the ultimate sacrifice, most notably during the Bataan Death March in 1942. Developing these educational resources are vital steps in ensuring that our Filipino veterans’ legacy will remain alive.

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