Monday, March 23, 2009

Celebrating Equal Rights Victory with Filipino Veterans and their Families

I gathered Saturday with friends in Eagle Rock to celebrate the tremendous victory our WWII Filipino veterans recently won to receive restitution for veterans’ benefits stripped away by Congress back in 1946 under the Rescission Act. With the recently signed stimulus bill, President Obama set aside $198 million for the more than 15,000 Filipino veterans living in the U.S. and abroad. Under the plan, Filipino veterans who are U.S. citizens will receive a one-time payment of $15,000, while non-U.S. citizens will receive $9,000. The President signed the legislation almost 63 years to the day of the Rescission Act and I congratulated our veterans on Saturday for displaying the same tenacity and courage they exhibited on the battlefield in this fight for equal rights. They never, ever gave up and they never lost hope. While it’s sad that so few of the more than 260,000 Filipinos who were called to arms by President Roosevelt are still alive to receive the payments, it is extremely important for the legacy of these veterans, who at the end of the day, just wanted to be treated like all other U.S. veterans. And veterans will tell you that on the battlefield there are no racial distinctions and there are no social or economic differences: there are just soldiers. So, this was a big victory for all U.S. veterans. Congratulations to all and God Bless America.