Filipino WWII vets receive Congressional Gold Medal
- Published: Oct 25, 2017, 7 AM
The bipartisan, bicameral ceremony was led by House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.; and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
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The medal is authorized under provisions of Public Law 114-265.
The enabling legislation authorizes presentation of the gold medal to recognize that “the loyal and valiant Filipino Veterans of World War II fought, suffered, and, in many instances, died in the same manner and under the same commander as other members of the United States Armed Forces during World War II.”
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From July 1941 to December 1946, 260,000 Filipino and Filipino-American soldiers served and fought for the United States and the Philippines to topple Axis powers during World War II. Fewer than 16,000 of those soldiers are alive today.
The obverse of the gold medal was designed by U.S. Mint Artistic Infusion Program artist Joel Iskowitz and sculptured by U.S. Mint Sculptor-Engraver Phebe Hemphill. The reverse was designed by Donna Weaver, an AIP artist and former U.S. Mint sculptor-engraver, and sculptured by U.S. Mint Sculptor-Engraver Joseph F. Menna.
Iskowitz’s obverse design depicts three Filipino fighters — one at left with a rifle strapped over his right shoulder, a hand grenade hanging from the right pocket of his shirt; at center, a helmeted solider carrying a rifle; and at far right, a guerilla fighter in straw hat with a bolo knife in his right hand. In the foreground is a soldier on the beach, kneeling on his left knee and holding a rifle and bayonet, with ocean inlet and island vegetation behind.
Weaver’s reverse design features American and Philippines flags on staffs flanking a scroll on which appear the dates 1941, 1945 and 1946. Inscribed below is ACT OF CONGRESS 2016. Inscribed around the top border is UNITED STATES ARMY FORCES IN THE FAR EAST. Inscribed in eight lines in the center field is DUTY TO / COUNTRY / BATAAN & / CORREGIDOR / LUZON / LEYTE / SOUTHERN / PHILIPPINES. A large dot is used to separate the names of the battle arenas.
Following the medal’s presentation, the congressional gold medal is to be turned over to the Smithsonian Institution for display and research.
Bronze duplicates of the gold medal are authorized under the legislation to be struck by the U.S. Mint and sold to the public.
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