MANILA, Phillippines – On Thursday, September 13, Filipino World War II veterans and their representatives gathered at the US Embassy in Manila to receive the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award given by the US Congress.
The medal is given to a person or a group that performed an “outstanding deed or act of service to the security, prosperity, and national interest of the US.”
Among the awardees is 100-year-old Sixto Navidad, the oldest war veteran honored that day, and one of 250,000 Filipinos who were called into service with the US military and guerilla forces during WWII.
It was the first time a ceremony for the award was held in the Philippines. The first was in the US Capitol building in Washington DC on October 25, 2017.
In his speech, US Ambassador Sung Kim said, “What they have freely given is beyond our power to repay, but on this day and at this time, we recognize our debt for their sacrifices with deep respect and profound appreciation.”
In 2016, the US Congress passed the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act. Then-president Barack Obama signed it into law in December of that year.
The Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) will hold regional ceremonies around the Philippines, to “give veterans and their families the opportunity to honor and celebrate the wartime service and sacrifices of Filipino Veterans of World War II,” the US embassy said in a statement.
Here are some photos of the event, all courtesy of the US embassy: