Educators mull ways of teaching legacy of Filipino WWII vets to US students
More than a dozen teachers educators, administrators and community organizers from across the country convened Oct. 22 in the first-ever “Duty to Country (DTC)” teachers’ conference in Arlington, Virginia, to explore ways of teaching American students the historical contributions of Filipino veterans of World War II.
Hosted by the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project or FilVetRep, educators and organizers reviewed the organization’s award-winning online exhibit and curriculum and shared ideas on how to improve existing teaching resources and practical ways to adapt these materials for their students.
FilVetREP will be working closely with these educators and teachers in the next 12 months as the project reaches out to school districts in as many states as possible to ensure that this program, which is accessible for free, will be widely used and taught in classrooms.
“FilVetREP’s education program, “Duty to Country – Under One Flag,” is a powerful venue to remind not only ourselves but the next generation, to carry on the legacy of these brave soldiers and honor their service and sacrifice,” said FilVetREP Chairman Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba.
FilVetREP also celebrated the 6th Anniversary of the Congressional Gold Medal, a historic achievement when Congress honored Filipino and American World War II veterans on Oct. 25, 2017 with this highest civilian award.
Since 2017, FilVetREP has held nearly 100 ceremonies across the U.S., Hawaii and Alaska. Similar ceremonies have also been held in the Philippines.
To date, more than 5,000 veterans have been honored with this medal. On Oct. 22, seven more families received medals on behalf of their deceased fathers and grandfathers.
According to the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO), there are only 2,022 Filipino Veterans who are still alive, as of April 8 this year, 236 of whom are over the century mark. Among the longest living veteran in the Washington, D.C. area, Celestino Almeda, died in last April. He was 104.
Repeal of Rescission Act
Taguba reiterated that the organization is “committed to repeal the Rescission Act of 1946 – an act of Congress that tarnished the honor of our Filipino World War II veterans and brought pain and sorrow upon their lives and families for over 75 years.”
FilVetREP was formed nine years ago with three goals: to secure the Congressional Gold Medal for the 270,000 veterans who served, to develop an online interactive educational program to preserve their historic legacy, and to repeal the 1946 Rescission Act.
“Having accomplished our first goal in 2016, we are currently expanding the education program, Duty to Country. Once this is completed, we will focus our energies on a national call to action to repeal the Rescission Act,” Taguba said. “We must close this dark chapter in U.S. history and restore the honor and dignity of our heroes who were betrayed by America’s broken promise.”
In her keynote address at FilVetREP’s 6th anniversary celebration, Erika Moritsugu, Deputy Asst. to President Biden and Senior Liaison for Asian Americans Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, commended FilVetREP for securing the Congressional Gold Medal to honor the service and sacrifice of the 270,000 soldiers who fought under the American flag, and for its continued advocacy on behalf of Filipino World War II veterans.
“We must never forget their courage and grit. We must ensure their stories are not erased from history,” Moritsugu said.