he Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, located in what is now called Global City (formerly Ft. William McKinley) in the Philippines, is the largest cemetery built and administered by the American Battle Monuments Commission. In this sprawling 152 acre site are buried 16,636 Americans and and 570 Filipinos. In addition, the names of 32,520 Americans and 3,762 Filipinos whose remains were never recovered or identified are inscribed on the Walls of the Missing.
The cemetery which is impeccably maintained, is a indeed a fitting tribute to those who gave their lives so that we can live in freedom and democracy. Sadly, to many young Filipinos, the battles of World War II is nothing more than "ancient history." There is a failure to truly appreciate the hardship and the sacrifice of those brave men and women who stood up to the invading Japanese. Filipinos and Americans together as comrades fought the enemy at every turn. And unlike other countries that quickly fell to the advancing Japanese forces, the Philippines valiantly resisted and in the process delayed the Japanese advance into Southeast Asia. This delay gave the Allies time to get their bearings and mount a serious counter-offensive that eventually culminated in the defeat of Japan in 1945.
American soldiers of the time acknowledged the bravery and fighting prowess of the Filipino soldiers and guerillas. And Filipinos in turn were grateful to the American GIs who courageously fought and died to rid the Japanese invaders from the Philippines. This Memorial Day, let us remember the men and women (Filipino and American) who paid the ultimate price so that you and I can live in peace and freedom today. Happy Memorial Day!
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