HONOLULU (AP) — The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill to honor Filipino soldiers who fought under U.S. command in World War II with the Congressional Gold Medal.
The House’s unanimous approval came Nov. 30 after the Senate passed the legislation this summer. President Barack Obama was expected to sign to bill.
“Now we can tell our veterans with pride in our hearts that this grateful nation has, at last, granted them recognition for the selfless sacrifice they endured in war, and restored their dignity and honor in service to their nation,” said retired Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, chairman of the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project, in a news release.
Under the legislation, Filipino and Filipino-American soldiers who responded to President Franklin Roosevelt’s “call-to-duty” will be awarded the nation’s highest civilian honor.
The bill was sponsored by Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.
Hawaii’s congressional leaders have been pushing for the measure to recognize the approximately 18,000 Filipino WWII veterans still alive in the U.S., as most of them are in their 90s.
“For months, we have said that time is running out to recognize Filipino World War II veterans for their brave service,” Hirono said in the release. “[The] House passage is the culmination of decades of work by these veterans and their families to recognize their key role in the Allied victory, and their decades-long fight for benefits.”
Gabbard urged Obama to sign the bill into law before the year’s end to “honor our veterans with this long-overdue recognition.”
Approximately 250,000 Filipinos and Filipino Americans served the United States during World War II, but did not receive full recognition because of the Rescission Act of 1946.
In a statement, KAYA: Filipino Americans for Progress said, “We are grateful for leaders in Congress and in advocacy groups for pushing for recognition of our veterans, both for the living and for those who have passed.”