Wednesday, April 09, 2014

the Greatest Generation

Today is a holiday here: The Day of Valor.

The Day of Valor, also known as Araw ng Kagitingan, commemorates the heroism of Filipinos and American Soldiers when the Japanese occupied the Philippines during World War II. Major General Edward P. King, of the United States Army, was forced to surrender more than 76,000 Filipinos, Chinese and American soldiers to the Japanese at dawn on April 9, 1942. The soldiers were forced to take a 90-mile (about 145 kilometers) hike to Camp O’Donnell in San Fernando. Thousands of prisoners died during the hike (also known as the Bataan Death March) due to starvation, dehydration and diseases before they could reach the camp.
Despite the trials of defeat, the captured soldiers stood strong and heroes emerged from the event. The surrender of Bataan hastened the fall of Corregidor. However, without this stand, the Japanese might have quickly overrun all of the US bases in the Pacific. Bataan forced them to slow down, giving the allies valuable time to prepare for conflicts such as the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Battle of Midway, which followed closely thereafter. American and Filipino liberation forces eventually retook the Bataan peninsula on February 8, 1945.
The Day of Valor was a national observance until a Letter of Instruction No. 1087, dated on November 26, 1980, made “Araw ng Kagitingan” a national public holiday to honor the people who helped bring democracy and freedom in the Philippines during the World War II era. Executive Order No. 203, dated on June 30, 1987, further proclaimed April 9 as “Araw Ng Kagitingan” to pay tribute to the heroes of Bataan, Corregidor and Bessang.

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