By Roy C. Mabasa
The United States government gave a salute to Filipino and American soldiers who sacrificed their lives during World War II for the liberation of the Philippines from Japanese occupation as the nation commemorated Day of Valor on Sunday, April 9.
“On this Day of Valor, we honor service members, Filipino and American, who fought for freedom and democratic values,” said U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim in a statement.
Araw ng Kagitingan, also known as Bataan Day, is observed in the Philippines to commemorate the heroism of Filipino 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 Filipino 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 Capas.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.Historians state that without this stand in Bataan, the Japanese might have quickly overrun all of the U.S. bases in the Pacific. Bataan forced the Japanese troops 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.