U.S. Congress Finally Passes Bill to Award Congressional Gold Medals to Filipino WWII Veterans

After more than half a century, the 260,000 Filipino and Filipino-American veterans of World War II may finally get their due recognition as the bill that seeks to honor them just needs one more signature before it becomes a law.

Sponsored by Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015 officially passed in the House of Representatives on Nov. 30.

Reps. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Joe Heck (R-Nevada), Mike Honda (D-Calif.), and Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii) were among the bill’s co-sponsors which had previously passed the Senate in July.

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Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii introduced the companion Senate bill.

Hirono and Gabbard introduced the Congressional Gold Medal proposal in the House and Senate in 2015, reported NBC.

In a statement, Hirono said, “For months, we have said that time is running out to recognize Filipino World War II veterans for their brave service.”

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“Today’s House passage is the culmination of decades of work by these veterans and their families to recognize their key role in the Allied victory, and their decades-long fight for benefits.”

It has now been sent to President Barack Obama to await his approval.

“Today is truly a great day, a significant seminal period in American history — second only to the liberation of the Philippines and surrender of the Japanese Imperial Forces on August 15, 1945,” retired Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, chairman of the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project, was quoted as saying. “Now we can tell our veterans with pride in our hearts that this grateful nation has, at last, granted them recognition for the selfless sacrifice they endured in war, and restored their dignity and honor in service to their nation.”

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The medal recognizes all the soldiers who bravely responded to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s call-to-duty, fighting under the United States flag during World War II. While the soldiers were promised military benefits, the Rescission Act of 1946 would later retract the offer.

A legislation signed by Obama in 2009 awarded the veterans a one-time lump sum payment of $15,000 for the U.S. citizens and $9,000 if they were living in the Philippines.

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