Some forty-seven World War II veterans will be formally receiving the United States (US) Congress Medal Awards during the resumption of the giving out of the coveted awards on the commemoration of Victory Day on September 3, 2023 at the Baguio Convention Center.
Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) Deputy Administrator and Assistant Secretary retired Brig. Gen. Restituto Aguilar disclosed that US Ambassador to the Philippines Mary Kay Carlson and Defense Secretary Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr. will be handing over the prestigious awards to the surviving veterans and the members of the families of deceased veterans.
On September 3, 1945, Gen. Tomoyoki Yamashita of the Japanese Imperial Army formally signed his surrender documents at the US Ambassador’s Residence in Camp John Hay (CJH) after his capture in Kiangan, Ifugao in September 1945 that formally ended World War II.
He disclosed that the US Congress Medal Ward is being given by the US Congress to deserving World War II veterans in recognition of their services during the war.
The US Congress started giving the said award to deserving World War II veterans in 2018 with over 500 veterans receiving the said award.
The PVAO official stipulated that the giving out of the said award temporarily stopped during the COVID-19 pandemic where there were some 20 veterans that were supposed to receive the award.
Further, Aguilar added that there were some 27 additional veterans from the different parts of the country who were validated to be included as recipients during the resumption of the in-person warding rites to be held in the city.
Aguilar narrated that of the 17 million population of the country during World War II, 1 million died from the hostilities where more than 500,000 were enlisted personnel.
However, he claimed that of the 500,000 who fought in the war, more than 200,000 were recognized by the US government as war veterans because they fought with arms.
Aguilar claimed that what is ironic about the situation is that those who fought with the Filipinos without arms such as the laundrywomen, cooks, quarter masters or those who fought without arms were not actually given due recognition.
The Congressional Gold Medal is an award bestowed by the United States Congress. It is the highest civilian award in the United States, alongside the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The Gold Medal seeks to impart the highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions by individuals or institutions.
The congressional practice of issuing gold medals to occasionally honor recipients began with members of the military during the American Revolution. The practice soon extended to individuals in all walks of life and in the late 20th century also to groups. The congressional medal seeks to honor those, individually or as a group, “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.
Aguilar revealed that there is no financial remuneration that goes with the award that is why the same will simply be handed over to the identified recipient during the said ceremony.