Filipino WWII veterans awarded ‘long overdue’ US honors

Oct 26, 2017 | Good News, War, World

Filipino WWII veterans awarded ‘long overdue’ US honors

US House Speaker Paul Ryan shakes the hand of centenarian Filipino veteran Celestino Almeda during the awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal to Filipino veterans.ย Speaker Paul Ryan’s website

MANILA, Philippinesย โ€”

After more than 70 years, Filipino veterans who fought in the World War II have received the highest civilian honor from the US House and Senate leaders.

House Speaker Paul Ryan led the awarding of a Congressional Gold Medal to Filipino veterans, a recognition that is “long, long overdue.”

“They battled not only the enemy, but starvation and malnutrition. But they never lost sight of the cause. And they never accepted defeat,” Ryan said. A video of the ceremonies is posted on his website.

Ryan said thousands of Filipinos “with no formal training” and who have “never even picked up a weapon” have answered the call to arms for securing the “legacy” of liberty.

“And without you, we know this day would not have been possible,” Ryan added.

“We are here to immortalize the legacy of great liberators, who have paved the way for generations to follow,” the US House Speaker said.

Veterans and their surviving families were invited to the ceremonies on October 25, Manila time.

About 250,000 Filipinos heeded the call of US President Franklin Roosevelt’s call to duty during the World War II. Nearly one million Filipinos died during the war.

Centenarian veteran receives medal

Celestino Almeda led the receiving of the Congressional Gold Medal. Families of veterans also received the award on other veterans’ behalf.

Donning his military hat, Almeda took the podium and thanked the US House and Senate leaders who presented the award to them.

In an impassioned speech, he recalled that “many have passed away, waiting for 75 years for this time to come.”

“After the war, thousands of us fell underappreciated and unrecognized for fighting for our country,” Almeda said, but he expressed that he remains grateful for the recognition.

“I am Celestino Almeda, a 100-year-old veteran of World War II,” he has proudly said, which was received with enthusiastic applause and a standing ovation.

“Old soldiers never die, they just fade away,” Almeda added.

The Congressional Medal of Honor is the “highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions.”

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