October 25, 2017

Hirono, Gabbard Present Filipino World War II Veterans with Congressional Gold Medal

20 Hawaii Veterans & Family Members Attend Capitol Ceremony 

Ceremony Follows Years-Long Effort to Recognize Filipino World War II Veterans

WASHINGTON, D.C.- Senator Mazie K. Hirono, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, and Congressional leaders presented the Congressional Gold Medal to Filipino World War II veterans. The presentation ceremony was the culmination of Senator Hirono and Congresswoman Gabbard’s years-long effort to recognize Filipino World War II veterans with the Congressional Gold Medal, Congress’ 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 Senator 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.”

“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,” said Congresswoman Gabbard.

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 Senator Hirono and Congresswoman Gabbard in presenting the medal.

“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 20th Century,” said Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer. “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.”

“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.”

Senator Hirono and Congresswoman Gabbard’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.

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

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

Congresswoman Gabbard addresses attendees at the Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony