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As the United States celebrated Memorial Day on May 26, family members of Filipino and American soldiers who died during World War II came together for a simple gathering to commemorate all those who served during the war.  They were joined by WWII veterans and survivors, as well as other special guests.   The event, organized by the Bataan Legacy Project, was held in the afternoon of Memorial Day at the Social Hall of the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco.

The event titled: “Bataan Legacy – Filipino and American World War II Veterans and Survivors Reunite After 72 Years”, not only served to commemorate Filipino and American soldiers who died in battle.  It was also a platform for other WWII survivors – civilians, ordinary citizens, and guerilla fighters, who selflessly served to defend their country and their people.

Deputy Consul General Jaime Ramon T. Ascalon, in his welcome remarks, expressed deep appreciation for the efforts of the Bataan Legacy Project Founders in bringing together a group of people who are an integral part of world history.  DCG Ascalon, citing his own family members’ experience as veterans, also stressed the considerable sacrifices and contributions of all those who fought during the war.

Among the distinguished panel of speakers, Mr. Dan Crowley and Ms. Consuelo Hall McHugh recounted tales of WWII.  Mr. Dan Crowley was a member of the 17th Pursuit Squadron and described the incidences that transpired as they fought alongside Filipino soldiers.  Ms. Consuelo Hall McHugh, on the other hand, related her experiences as a young girl living in Manila while the city was engulfed in battle between the Allied and Japanese forces.

WWII Veterans with members of the Bataan Legacy Project

Major General Eldon Regua (Ret.) of the US Army and Colonel Michael Wells, Undersecretary of Operations of the California Department of Veterans Affairs, also spoke before the assembled guests.  Both gentlemen stressed the significant contributions of all those who served during WWII, especially the Filipino and American soldiers who fought together, in the outcome of the conflict and the resulting success of the Allied forces.

Ms. Cecilia Gaerlan, Founder of the Bataan Legacy Project, reiterated the importance of AB199.  This piece of legislation, once passed, will cause the inclusion of the role of Filipinos in WWII in the Social Studies curriculum of Grades 7 to 12 in California.

Col. Wells presenting the Proclamation for the Bataan Legacy Project to Ms. Cecilia Gaerlan.

Another highlight of the event is the presentation of a Proclamation for Bataan Legacy.  The Proclamation, which was signed by California Governor Gerry Brown, was presented by Col. Wells to Ms. Gaerlan.  And at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, everyone present joined the rest of America in a moment of silence in remembrance of the members of the armed forces who died in service of their country.