CAPAC Members Release Statements on Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony for Filipino World War II Veterans

Oct 25, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) issued the following statements honoring Filipino veterans for their dedicated service during World War II. Earlier today, the veterans were collectively awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor that Congress can bestow. CAPAC Members Senator Mazie K. Hirono and Congressman Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii were the lead sponsors of the Congressional Gold Medal legislation to honor these veterans for their service.

CAPAC Leadership

Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC Chair:

“Today, our nation honored Filipino veterans with the Congressional Gold Medal for their heroic and valiant service during World War II. This recognition is long overdue, and I want to thank my CAPAC colleagues, Senator Mazie Hirono and Congressmember Tulsi Gabbard, for their tireless work to get the Congressional Gold Medal legislation across the finish line.

“I also want to thank all of the veterans, families, and community leaders who have fought for decades to ensure that Filipino veterans receive the compensation and recognition they have both earned and deserve. This historic ceremony would not be possible without their efforts, and it is with tremendous pride that we honor these veterans and their families today.”

Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo (GU), CAPAC Vice Chair:

“Filipino World War II veterans fought bravely alongside U.S. servicemembers and were instrumental to combating enemy forces in the Pacific. The Congressional Gold Medal they receive today honors their sacrifices and extends our country’s long overdue gratitude for their commitment to liberty and freedom. I am proud to join all Americans in recognizing Filipino World War II veterans for their courage and valor, and I hope our country never forgets the heroism they exhibited.”

Congressman Ted Lieu (CA-33), CAPAC Whip:

“Today, at long last, we finally honor the immense contributions of Filipino Veterans in World War II with the Congressional Gold Medal. This award recognizes the countless number of Filipinos who answered the call of duty and served the United States valiantly to uphold freedom and oppose fascism.

“In the summer of 1941, President Roosevelt called into service the Philippines military. Filipinos were instrumental in supporting American military might by providing invaluable intelligence and fighting courageously against the Imperial Japanese Army. Americans and Filipinos fought side-by-side and we should honor their bravery and sacrifice.

“Bestowing the Congressional Gold Medal to the Filipino Veterans of World War II is an important step that Congress can make to express our gratitude for their service. I ask that my colleagues and the American people rise in honor of Filipino Veterans who served in World War II.”

Democratic Leadership

Senate Democratic Leader Charles E. Schumer (NY):

“Today we pay tribute to the quarter of a million Filipinos who answered an American President’s call to fight for our country in the defining war of the 20thCentury. Those brave men, who bravely took up arms and risked life and limb on behalf of a country that was not yet their own, were heroes. It is a mark of a confident and exceptional nation to look back on its history and say we made a grievous error, but we recognize it and pledge never to let it happen again. I’m especially proud to be an American today as Congress rights a decades-old wrong and bestows the highest civilian honor on the Filipino veterans of the Second World War, enshrining in the history books their courage and sacrifice on behalf of a grateful nation.”

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA-12):

“Today, we recognize the extraordinary heroism and sacrifice of the Filipino Veterans of World War II by conferring the highest honor Congress can bestow. 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.”

CAPAC Senators

Senator Mazie K. Hirono (HI):

“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. 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.”

Senator Brian Schatz (HI):

“This award is long overdue, but well-deserved. Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos answered the call of duty with valor during World War II. They fought under our flag, and so today, we honor and recognize their service with our nation’s highest honor—and our utmost gratitude.”

CAPAC House Members

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02):

“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. 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.”

Congressman Jimmy Gomez (CA-34):

“Today, our nation honors Filipino-American veterans with the Congressional Gold Medal for their bravery during World War II. These loyal and dedicated men who fought and risked their lives are finally being given the recognition they deserve. As the Congressmember for Historic Filipinotown in Los Angeles, I am proud to join our country in honoring these men for their courage and patriotism.”

Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01):

“Today, Filipino World War II veterans were honored with well-deserved Congressional Gold Medals. My sincere thanks and gratitude to the veterans and their families for their personal bravery and strength of spirit and service on behalf of the people of the United States. May your heroism and sacrifices never be forgotten.”

Congressman Ro Khanna (CA-17):

“America owes a debt of immense gratitude to the quarter million Filipino and Filipino-Americans who fought for our nation in World War II. These brave individuals put their lives on the line despite facing discrimination from their allies. The Congressional Gold Medal honors their courageous contributions to America’s safety and freedom that have been overlooked for far too long.”

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13):

“As the daughter of a veteran, I am deeply grateful to the thousands of Filipino American veterans who answered the call of duty and loyally served our country during World War II. The wrongful retraction of their military benefits following the war remains a disgraceful stain on our country, and this commemoration of their brave service and sacrifice is long overdue. Congratulations to all those receiving Congressional Gold Medals today, and thank you for your service.”

Congresswoman Doris Matsui (CA-06):

“The Congressional Gold Medal rightfully recognizes the selfless service of these soldiers and their families during World War II. We will be forever grateful for the Filipino veterans who sacrificed on our country’s behalf at a time of great peril, and must continue to honor their service for generations to come.”

Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06):

“I am thrilled that Filipino veterans who served in World War II have finally been awarded with the Congressional Gold Medal. For too long, these brave and courageous veterans who served and sacrificed with U.S. troops were denied the recognition they deserved. Today’s ceremony finally rights that wrong and provides them with the honor they earned but never received. I am proud to have cosponsored the bill that made this happen, and I thank Senator Hirono and Congresswoman Gabbard for introducing the legislation. As we applaud and celebrate this historic occasion, we must continue our efforts to ensure that Filipino World War II veterans receive all the benefits they earned for their heroic service to our nation.”

Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03):

“As a member of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) and the only member of Congress of Filipino ancestry, I am proud to honor the invaluable service of our Filipino veterans who nobly served in World War II. The contributions of our Filipino veterans have left a remarkable legacy on the history of the United States and the Philippines. We must continue to recognize and honor the sacrifice and dedication of these veterans.”

Congressman Mark Takano (CA-41):

“When President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a call to arms to the Philippines just before the United States entered into World War II, more than 200,000 Filipino soldiers valiantly responded and fought under the American flag. These Filipino soldiers were initially promised full military benefits for their service, but the United States backpedaled on this promise and did not correct its mistake until 2009. Today, more than 70 years since their service, we are taking another important and long overdue step towards honoring the valor and sacrifices of the World War II Filipino veterans by awarding them the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal.”

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09):

“Today, our country is honoring Filipino World War II veterans for their heroism and sacrifice. By awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to these American heroes, we are commemorating the brave patriotism of Filipino veterans and providing them with the long-overdue recognition they rightly earned. The leadership of both Senator Hirono and Representative Gabbard was crucial in enacting the Filipino WWII Veterans Congressional Gold Medal Act. I join all my colleagues in the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus in celebrating the service of Filipino WWII veterans, and I thank these veterans for their incredible contributions to our nation.”

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The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Currently Chaired by Congresswoman Judy Chu, CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.