US Congress seeks high honors for war veterans

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A bipartisan and bicameral group of legislators in the US Congress has introduced a bill seeking the Congressional Gold Medal for Filipino and Filipino-American soldiers in the United States and the Philippines who fought during World War II.

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In statement, the Philippine Embassy in Washington said a news conference announcing the bill’s introduction was held by Senator Mazie Hirono and Representative Tulsi Gabbard, both Democrats from Hawaii.

Other members of the Senate and the House of Representatives were on hand to announce their support for the legislation, including Senator Tim Kaine (Democrat-Virginia) and  Rep. Joe Heck (Republican-Nevada) and Rep. Juan Vargas (Democrat-California).

Retired Major General Antonio Taguba also spoke at the news conference on behalf of the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP).

Two veterans, Purple Heart recipient retired Major Jesse Baltazar and retired Senior Chief Petty Officer Remigio Cabarcar were also present at the event.

The bill acknowledged the dedicated service of over 260,000 Filipino and Filipino-American who fought side by side with American soldiers and seeks to collectively award the Congressional Gold Medal to the veterans.

“The announcement of this bill is timely as we celebrate Philippine independence and the friendship between the Philippines and the United States. The 4th of July is the United States’ Independence Day and also Philippines-American Friendship Day. Our friendship has deep historical roots, which include fighting side by side in wars for liberation. I am pleased to see this friendship continue to grow and hope that our veterans receive the recognition they deserve,” Philippine Ambassador to Washington Jose Cuisia said.

The Congressional Gold Medal is awarded to persons “who have performed an achievement that has an impact on American history and culture that is likely to be recognized as a major achievement in the recipient’s field long after the achievement.”

The award is the US Congress’ highest expression of appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions.

It is also one of the highest civilian awards in the United States, along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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