Acknowledging the Unacknowledged on Veteran's Day in LA

Just as every year on TV, they appear to focus on white American Veteran stories (props to Google for their multi-colored Vet Day logo), my focus is on unacknowledged soldiers.

On this day every year, I remember Filipino American Veterans from World War II.  I have been for just about 10 or 11 years now.

'Unacknowledged', 'unrecognized,' are the operative adjectives.  Unacknowledged by major media outlets (and by proxy the American public), unrecognized by US government agency, until relatively recently.  

Basically, when we were at war with Japan, Roosevelt offered soldiers in the Phillippines the same rights and benefits conferred to American soldiers so that they could help in the US effort.  Then, as soon as we won the war, Harry Truman, signed the Rescission act of 1946.  The Rescission Act stripped them of any benefits that they were due to receive.

Just as Veterans from World War II die every year, Filipino veterans from that era die increasingly every year.  

They have been fighting for their rights since the 1960s, and have only won what little recognition and rights in piecemeal fashion.  

For the Fil-Am veterans living here in Los Angeles, a few in Historic Filipinotown, they've scored a few minor victories along the way, such as a little statue at Lake St. Park, installed in 2006.
Their largest, and most recent victory nationally was a one-time lump sum payment in 2009, which needed to be bundled under Obama's Stimulus Act from his first term.  But obviously that one-time lump sum payment was a compromise meant to address part of the injustice, and not the full extent of the injustice.

I just wonder what "could have been" if these Filipinos were able to build their lives here, with the benefits of home ownership, the GI Bill, etc.  

I mean, I'm here, I'm sort of successful, but maybe more capital could've been sent to the Philippines, and they'd be more well-off.  Its all been lost time now, but I don't think addressing the injustice is over.  

The group that I usually hang around with, Justice for Filipino American Veterans (JFAV) held a march today in Hollywood, and for more than 15 years have been focusing on getting WWII Veterans full recognition.  I didn't attend and I guess I should have, but the logistics of making it all happen today with all the responsibilities, and the fact that my main computer went down made that a non-reality.

Happy Veteran's Day, and till justice is served....

No comments: