The light in the Capital Dome

Washington as the world’s most powerful city is arguable. But no one is immune to the spell of this international city on the Potomac, where  tastes, levels of energy, basic perspectives on what is interesting or edifying, vary!

Residents earn the highest median household income in this nation, a big city that bustles with yuppies, diplomatic immigrants, CEOs in their power suits, and college students—all trying to create and integrate their own circles. The Hills is a mixture of residential, and commercial—restored townhouses, trendy bars, where Congressional staffers and the poor comingle, not always successfully, according to the police blotter. The notorious capital beltway, that surrounds  in the city in the Virginia and Maryland  suburbs is nothing but the ribbon of concrete and green encircling it. It is said to be abound with lawyers, including a wonderful pair that keeps their socks in the drawers of the White House. It is the grandest place  to receive tributes. It is the haven for lobbyists.

For Arturo Garcia, national coordinator of the Justice for Filipino American Veterans (JFAV), the journey to Washington with worn out shoes, rubbed and tired legs, walking the tunnels and the stairs going to offices of both the House and the Senate—on behalf of the sprinkling remnants of the WWII Veterans Service —is an on going odyssey, which began even earlier than the 1990s.

The JAFV is an undaunted group currently serving the community through a variety of programs aimed at addressing the varying needs of the veterans community all over the US through outreach programs and social reports systems with different resources that can help improve their quality of life.

Part of the pains of their odyssey  were hurtful remarks: “If we will recognize Filipino Veterans, then a lot of other veterans like Hmong, Laosian and even merchant marines will follow suit. and we have to explain that Filipino Veterans are not mercenaries from a regional war like Vietnam. The Philippines was a former colony of the US and fought side by side during WWII, a world war,” Garcia said.

That makes one think even deeper. Nowhere else in Asia did subjected people support and defend their colonial masters? Didn’t the Indo Chinese turn on the French? The Indonesian on the Dutch and the Malay and Burmese against the British? Only the Filipino remained loyal.

With 435 Congress people and 100 senators, most of whom are very young with perhaps little knowledge  of World War II—except those who served in the US Military—Garcia exclaims: “How do we reason and convince these generations of lawmakers?”

But there’s hope and good news.

Last June 13, Rep. Jackie Speier filed for the third time, the Filipino Veterans Recognition Act of 2015, a bill that will repeal the Recission Act of 1946, in Congress. The bill gives full monthly pension to the remaining 25,000 veterans and 60,000 widows.

We have covered big memorial events from Canada to the most romantic military ruffles and flourishes of Arlington Cemetary in DC, but the most haunting memory and  remembrance of war was the Palo, Leyte Gulf Landing of WWII. It was an unprecedented show of people, the 18 nations that participated, with hundreds of foreign veterans who stood with their counterparts at the Red Beach of Leyte, to mark the momento’s naval feat that changed the course of the war in the country. Leyte, literally paused, to honor its heroes of quietly tucked memories, of comrades who perished before they even had a chance to get off their landing crafts.That Leyte landing, when the last living link of the men, women and children, who died that others may live!

What is disturbing today are sad remnants, WWII fighter are still waging a battle. Almost certainly the last major struggle in their twilight years and the most important to the 70 years long quest to be yet recognized as American Veterans.

They’re still on another battlefield—the congressional hearing rooms at the Capitol (the awesome monument to democracy) which incites constant tension arising from the polarity of powerful people and ideas, as a light burns on the Capital dome, if it is in session.

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