A ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Bataan Death March is being held on Saturday in San Francisco.
A 21-gun salute will honor the thousands of American and Filipino soldiers who died as they were forced to march 65 miles to a prison camp after their surrender at Bataan.
The 3-month long battle that preceded the surrender on April 9, 1942, is part of an often forgotten history of the Philippines’ role in the World War II. The mostly Filipino soldiers defending Bataan had held off Japanese forces for three months without supplies of food or ammunition, a feat that is credited with delaying the timetable of the Japanese army.
The event to commemorate this history and honor the thousands who lost their lives is being organized by the Bataan Legacy Historical Society, whose mission is to educate the public about the role of the Philippines in World War II. The historical society has previously advocated for the inclusion of the Philippines’ role in the war in California’s high school curriculum. The California State Board of Education approved the change last year, which makes the state the first to require students to learn about this history, according to the BLHS.
As The AP reports, more than 250,000 Filipino soldiers served in World War II, but until recent years, they did not receive much acknowledgment. There has been an effort to change that of late. In December, then President Obama signed legislation awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the Filipino and Filipino-American veterans of World War II. Organizations like the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project have worked to undo the diminishing of the Filipino contribution to the war effort that happened in the decades following WW II.
A small number of the remaining Bataan survivors will gather for the ceremony in San Francisco today, including Ramon Regalado, who will be speaking. Regalado, who will turn 100 later this month, was honored earlier this week with medals for his service at his home in California.