Smithsonian Collects Filipino Congressional Gold Medal
Presented to Filipino Veterans of World War II
October 26, 2017
The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History will collect the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation's highest civilian award, presented in recognition of the service and gallantry of Filipino Veterans of World War II during a ceremony on Capitol Hill Oct. 25.
The medal was made pursuant to the provisions of the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015, Public Law 265 (114th Congress), which was sponsored by Sen. Mazie Hirono and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard to recognize the 260,000 Filipino, Filipino American and American soldiers who served during WW II in defense of the United States and the Philippines.
More than 57,000 were killed and thousands more wounded or went missing while defending the Philippines, at that time a U.S. commonwealth.
The medal, created by the U.S. Mint, features faces of soldiers and guerillas on the obverse, representing a Filipino scout, a Filipino infantry regiment officer and a guerrilla soldier in period uniforms, headgear and weapons. The reverse highlights the theme "Duty to Country" with a scroll bearing the years of 1941, 1945 and 1946 to denote three key phases of WW II service, as well as the four major campaigns: Bataan and Corregidor, Luzon, Leyte and Southern Philippines. The medal was designed by Joel Iskowitz and Donna Weaver and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill and Joseph Menna of the U.S. Mint.
The dates on the scroll memorize the 1941 Japanese attack of the Philippines, the 1945 liberation of the Philippines and defeat of Japanese Imperial Force, and the 1946 passage of the Rescission Act by Congress that denied citizenship and revoked veterans benefits and payments to Filipino soldiers.
The Congressional Gold Medal has been awarded by the U.S. Congress throughout American history to recipients who have contributed significantly to American society. Recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal must be supported by two-thirds of the House of Representatives, 67 members of the Senate and must pass specific standards when being considered.
Several Smithsonian museums preserve Congressional Gold Medals. The National Air and Space Museum holds the medals awarded to the Tuskegee Airmen and the Women Airforce Service Pilots. The National Museum of African American History and Culture holds the Montfort Point Marines medal, awarded to the African American Marines who served during WW II. The Congressional Gold medal awarded to the "Monuments Men" went to the Archives of American Art. The medal presented to the Native American Code Talkers is preserved at the National Museum of the American Indian. The National Museum of American History collected the Nisei Japanese American soldier medal in 2011 and the Borinqueneer medal presented to Puerto Rico's 65th Infantry Regiment in 2016.
Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History explores the infinite richness and complexity of American history. It helps people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future. The museum is located on Constitution Avenue N.W., between 12th and 14th Streets, and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free. For more information, visit https://americanhistory.si.edu. For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000.