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18/04/2016: ARAW NG KAGITINGAN COMMEMORATION IN HAWAII PAYS TRIBUTE TO LIVING WORLD WAR II VETERANS

Press Release

Before a crowd of nearly 180 individuals comprising of US and Philippine government officials, Hawaii legislators, military officials from the US Pacific Command, and members of the Filipino community in Hawaii, Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. thanked the veterans, especially the World War II veterans, for their service and sacrifice, at the commemoration ceremony marking the 74th Araw ng Kagitingan at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP) in Honolulu, Hawaii on 16 April 2016.

Referring to the ongoing campaign in the US Legislature for a Congressional Gold Medal to be awarded collectively to Filipino World War II veterans, Ambassador Cuisia assured the almost twenty (20) living veterans in attendance that, “we will, to the best of our ability, campaign for your recognition and we will continue to honor you”.

The Araw ng Kagitingan or Day of Valor is an annual commemorative ceremony organized by the Philippine Consulate General in Honolulu, in cooperation with the US Pacific Command, the NMCP and the Philippine Celebrations Coordinating Committee of Hawaii (PCCCH) to pay tribute to the heroism of our fallen heroes who fought for freedom during the Second World War.

US Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr., Commander of the US Pacific Command, spoke about the strong relations between the Philippines and the US, cemented by the regular Balikatan (Shoulder-to-Shoulder) exercises and the Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

Also to offer his message for the occasion was Adjutant General of the Hawaii National Guard, who represented Hawaii Governor David Ige. Special messages from the US legislators from Hawaii - Senators Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono, Representatives Mark Takai and Tulsi Gabbard - were read by their representatives during the program.

Also in attendance were RADM Vincent Atkins, Commander of the US Coast Guard District 14, living veterans of World War II and their families, members of the consular corps of Hawaii, officers from the US PACOM and its commanding units, academe, business and the Filipino community.

Ambassador Cuisia and Consul General to Honolulu Gina A. Jamoralin led the wreath-laying ceremony, where Admiral Harris, the State of Hawaii, the City and County of Honolulu, the Consular Corps of Hawaii, the World War II veterans and the Filipino community in Hawaii offered wreaths in honor of the fallen war veterans.

Military honors, consisting of a rifle of salute and playing of taps, by the US PACOM followed wreath-laying ceremony.

For the first time, Post held the activity at the NMCP’s Main Memorial Shrine, instead of at the Overlook, where it had held the previous ceremonies in the past years, making this year’s ceremony more solemn and accessible to the public.

The commemoration ceremony was followed by a Veterans Reception at the Philippine Consulate were around 20 living veterans were honored and presented with certificates of recognition jointly signed by Ambassador Cuisia and Consul General Jamoralin.

During the reception, the Ambassador also took the opportunity to convey his thanks to the Filipino community, PACOM officials and Consulate staff, bidding them farewell, as his tour of duty as the highest Philippine envoy to the US is about to end. (END).