The Filipino Veterans of World War II congressional gold medal was
presented Oct. 25 in ceremonies in Emancipation Hall at the Capitol Visitor Center.
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 Phillipines flagson
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 7 /
CORREGIDOR / LUZON / LEYTE / SOUTHERN PHILIPPINES.
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.