From the Mercury News
The stimulus bill approved by the U.S. Senate on Monday night authorized the release of $198 million to rectify Uncle Sam's postwar snub. About 18,000 Filipino vets who fought in the war under the American flag would now receive up to $15,000 for their service.
In case you don't know what the Filipino vets' struggle is about, here's a little legislative background:
The vets' quest for compensation stems from President Franklin D. Roosevelt's decision in July 1941 to draft 140,000 soldiers from the Philippines, then an American colony. A year later, Congress passed a law allowing Filipino soldiers to become U.S. citizens with full military benefits. But in 1946, after Filipino soldiers fought and died side by side with U.S. troops, President Harry S. Truman signed two bills denying them citizenship as well as most veterans' benefits. The bills were postwar cost-saving measures that Truman said he regretted.
Basically, the US government entered into a contract with people who sacrificed body, mind, and spirit. But because they weren't viewed as a colony anymore, nor were they regular white people, nor did they have any other leverage otherwise, the US pretty much just ignored the Philippines soldiers. Like...ahhh...you don't exist! Gollymee jeepers, isn't social exclusion fun?!
Because they have been disappointed before, Valdez and other Filipino vets say they won't celebrate until the allocation survives the committee now trying to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the $838.2 billion stimulus bill.
Ivan had been talking to me about his organizing work on behalf of those veterans, and the main thing that I got from him was that whatever they got was probably not enough. The Japanese who had been interned in the US had received more in terms of benefits and recognition. Don't know the exact numbers, they've been long since recognized, apologized to, and received their benefits. With Fil-Am vets, it's like a pittiance they've thrown at us just to shut us the fork up.
We have nice recognition parades in San Fran and Los Angeles on Veterans Day, and a nice monument in Historic Filipinotown. These are good, but it seems like there's a lot more missing.
Lots of people die in 64 mothereffin' years. What's happened to those veterans' families since then? Will their kids be able to reap any benefits?
My grandpa (RIP) back in the Philippines with my namesake was a veteran of World War II, but he wasn't able to come to the US, so he went out and made my dad and 8 other aunties and uncles. My dad wasn't able to come to the US till the mothereffin' 1980s and he wasn't able to finish architecture school because of the lack of money that perhaps my grandpa could've been compensated for.
Read full articles at Mercury News via the Angry Asian Man