The Fight Continues
Few could have imagined the long history these two nations would build together.
After the last living World War II veterans pass away, the Congressional Gold Medal commemorates their stories. It has been over 120 years since the United States colonized the Philippines. When the Philippine-American War began, few people on either side of the Pacific could have imagined the long history these two nations would build together. For decades, Filipinos and Filipino Americans have fought for their national independence, their individual freedom, and their political rights.
Thousands of Japanese soldiers surrender to a few dozen guerrillas during the closing days of the war.
“At last they recognize the heroism of these World War II veterans.”
Guadalupe Dee, Daughter of Veteran
Second, we understand that the Philippines was an enduring part of U.S. history. For 48 years, the Philippines was a colony of the United States. That relationship transformed both countries and built lasting connections between the two nations after independence. We see as well that the Philippines played a crucial role in the allied struggle against fascism in World War II. As soldiers, guerrillas, or civilians, Filipinos liberated their homeland.
America imports itself to the Philippines, establishing schools, churches and government branches, all under control from the States.
Third, we learn of the long history of America’s broken promises to the Philippines and the Filipino people. Even after the Philippines obtained its independence, the United States turned its back on the very people who helped them defeat the Japanese. Racial prejudice was written into law and erased the wartime service of nearly 200,000 servicemembers who fought under the American flag. We are reminded of the importance of upholding the principles of justice and equality, and fairness for which both Americans and Filipinos fought so hard.
“So long as the Rescission Act is still in place, this story is not over.”
Jonathan Melegrito, Secretary of FilVetREP, Activist, Son of Veteran
As far back as 1898, Emilio Aguinaldo and other supporters of the Philippine Revolution called on Americans to support a liberty-loving colony struggling to break free from colonial oppression. Filipino revolutionaries saw themselves as fighting for the same freedoms Americans sought in 1776. For over one hundred years they have continued their fight for liberty, in one form or another. For decades they struggled against colonial rule, whether Spain, the United States, or Japan.
On the many islands of the Philippines, war breaks out between the Spanish and the people they seek to rule.
Finally, we learn from the postwar struggles of the veterans that ordinary people can change the law. By speaking out, educating others, and building broad coalitions, Filipino World War II veterans and their advocates rewrote history. The task now remains for us to remember and honor that history.
Senator Daniel Inouye argues for the repealing of the Rescission Act and granting of benefits to veterans.
“Old soldiers never die. They just fade away.”
Celestino Almeda, WWII Veteran, 102 years old
The principal objective of Duty to Country education project is to reach the classrooms in elementary schools, high schools, and colleges and universities in 2021 and beyond.
We will continue to grow Duty to Country with additional educational material and lesson plans, artifacts, more oral history series, and plans for a documentary film.
We want the project to be available and accessible, especially the virtual exhibition, to select cultural and educational organizations and the public.
We plan to engage cultural and historical institutions to gain their interests in hosting or exhibiting this program.
There will be a public relations campaign to reach out to the community, conduct public engagement – virtually and in-person, and seek individual and corporate sponsors and funding in the near term.
We want Duty to Country appreciated and recognized as a national venue to educate our students, our community, and the American public.
Filipino guerrillas from the heroic raid on the Japanese prison camp at Cabanatuan. U.S. National Archives