As the Philippines commemorate the Day of Valor (Araw ng Kagitingan) on Monday, April 9, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana asked Filipinos to always remember the World War II veterans, who fought for the country’s freedom.

“Let us continue to celebrate and commemorate the valor and gallantry of our WW2 Veterans. Let us perpetuate the memory of their deeds to be emulated by future generations of Filipinos,” Lorenzana said in a statement.

He added, “Let us honor those who are still with us for pretty soon, they will all be gone.”

April 9 marks the commemoration of the Fall of Bataan in 1942. The holiday recognizes the heroism of Filipinos and American soldiers against the invading Japanese forces during the second world war.

More than 75,000 Filipino and American troops were forced by the Japanese forces to walk for 140 kilometers in six days — from Bataan to prison camps in Tarlac. Thousands perished this infamous trek, now known as the Bataan Death March.

In a message, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said the Fall of Bataan marked “the determination of Filipinos to stand against overwhelming odds.”

AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Bienvenido Datuin said the military will “remember the sacrifices of our veterans, their bravery and their selfless dedication to the country’s defense.”

“The deeds of heroism and ideals of our world war veterans will always be inculcated in the minds of our current soldiers who exhibit in their own actions the same fervor and willingness to defend our country and our people,” Datuin added.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) also expressed solidarity in remembering the valor and sacrifice of Filipino veterans during World War II.

In a statement, PNP spokesperson Chief Superintendent John Bulalacao said the police force also “join[s] our nation in giving honors to the Filipino soldiers who gave their lives and treasure so that we may all live in peace and freedom.”

“We pay respect to the heroes whose lives were sacrificed and whose blood was poured during the war in an unbroken tradition of a true Filipino valor thirsting for freedom,” Bulalacao added.

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