Bataan Death March rites slated in New Mexico and Texas
WASHINGTON, DC — Filipino and American World War II veterans, surviving family members, veterans advocates, community supporters, Philippine Embassy dignitaries, elected officials and congressional leaders will mark the 75th anniversary of the Bataan Death March with a series of events on Friday, March 17 through Sunday, March 19, 2017.
The main highlight, the annual Bataan Memorial Death March (BMDM), is a re-enactment of the arduous 65-mile march by 75,000 Filipino and American soldiers following the surrender of Bataan on April 9, 1942. As many as 10,000 men—9,000 Filipinos and 1,000 Americans—perished in the march while many more died at prison camps.
The BMDM is considered to be the largest commemoration outside the Philippines. The annual event at White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) in New Mexico has drawn more than 72,000 people since it started 28 years ago and has grown to include a slate of different races with military and civilian divisions. A record 7,000 marchers from all over the United States are expected this year.
The Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP), headed by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (Ret), will lead the Filipino American participation in the Bataan Memorial Death March (BMDM) on Sunday, March 19, 2017.
“We are marching to honor the soldiers of the greatest generation,” Taguba says. “The story of Filipino and American soldiers gallantly fighting together in Bataan during the Second World War must always be remembered and shared. This auspicious occasion allows us to pay tribute to their service and sacrifice.”
Celebrating the Congressional Gold Medal
Adding a special significance to the memorial march is another historic milestone: the recent granting of the Congressional Gold Medal to Filipino and American World War II veterans. Signed into law by President Obama on December 14, 2016, the Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015 (Public Law 115-265) recognizes their service from July 1941 to December 1946.
“The Congressional Gold Medal and what it represents provides an opportunity for the thousands of participants to learn more about our soldiers’ wartime service in World War II, their outstanding contributions and achievements, and their personal stories of heroism and uncommon valor,” adds Taguba.
The major events taking place this weekend are:
Friday, March 17
- All day Registration
- Survivor Descendant Welcome Reception, 3:00 – 5:00 PM
WSMR Frontier Club
- Movie: “The Great Raid,” WSMR Post Theater
Saturday, March 18, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
- FilVetREP presentation on the Congressional Gold Medal (CGM), including a video documentary, “Duty to Country,” and discussion about the project.
- WSMR Post Theater
Saturday, March 18, 6:00 PM – 10:00 PM
- Bataan Memorial March and Gold Medal Commemoration Dinner, hosted by FilVetREP and Filipino American community organizations.
- Hilton Doubletree Hotel El Paso, Sky Lounge
1600 Lamar Street, Houston, TX 77010
(Note: This dinner event is part of FilVetREP’s national campaign to raise funds for the purchase of bronze replicas for veterans and families, and to develop an education program to preserve the legacy of Filipino and American World War ll veterans.
Sunday, March 19, 6:00 AM
- Bataan Memorial Death March Opening Ceremony
(Note: The Philippine Flag will be part of the Color Guard and the Philippine National Anthem will be sung for the first time. It will be rendered by Filipino American Jim Diego, an active marathoner and a member of Broadway Barkada, an organization of Filipino American Broadway performers)
- 26-mile Bataan Memorial Death March will commence after the opening ceremony
White Sands Missile Range
For more information, see bataanmarch.com
FilVetREP will have an Information Table at the BMDM exposition. The table will be a meet and greet point for those wishing to meet Filipino American veterans and to pass out information about FilVetREP and the Congressional Gold Medal.