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Hawaii unveils monument honoring Filipino WWII veterans

Filipino WWII veterans memorial
via Hawaii News Now

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    A memorial honoring Filipino and Filipino American veterans of World War II was unveiled in Hawaii during a ceremony on Friday. 

    The monument consists of four life-sized bronze soldier statues representing members of the Philippine Constabulary, 1st Filipino Division, Filipino Scouts, Filipino Guerillas and the 1st and 2nd Filipino Regiments from Hawaii and the mainland. It was in the works for over five years as a collaborative effort between artist Kelley Hestir, veterans and an advisory committee. 

    Among the ceremony attendees were veterans Arthur Caleda, 99; Oscar Bangui, 98; and Faustino Garcia, 101, who were joined by the families of deceased veterans. Around a dozen surviving Filipino WWII survivors live in Hawaii.

    Caleda, 99, told Hawaii News Now that he and his fellow veterans are “very happy.”

    When he was asked what the ceremony meant for him and his family, Garcia, who attended the unveiling with his wife Erlinda, niece Miriam and nephew Rodolfo, said, “It’s good, it’s for the future, especially for the grandchildren.” 

    The monument was placed in front of the Waipahu Public Library of Oahu after veterans decided that a place of learning would be a fitting location.

    “It teaches me strength. It teaches me power. It teaches me identity. For it to be in front of the center of education, you can invite people to learn more about that. I think it’s very powerful,” Ella Lacanienta, whose grandfather was a Filipino veteran, said, according to Hawaii News Now. 

    In addition to the awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal to 260,000 Filipino and Filipino American soldiers in 2017, the state of Hawaii introduced a bill to authorize the funding of the monument in 2017. 

    It called for $200,000 to be allocated to the Hawaii state foundation on culture and the arts for the creation of a permanent memorial to commemorate the dedication and valor of Filipino veterans. 

    “It’s great to honor our veterans. But I think the real honor is carrying that legacy forward in any way, in every way possible, to generation after generation after generation,” said Ron Han, director of the State Department of Defense’s Office of Veterans Services. 

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