Speech of US Ambassador Philip Goldberg at the Araw ng Kagitingan celebration, April 9, 2014

It is my great honor to join you today in observance of Bataan and Corregidor in this day of heroes. I commend each of you for coming to this mountain where so many fought and perished to secure our freedom. The gallantry of those who fought for our freedom all those years ago must never be forgotten. 

Events like this reflect our commitment to remember each person who paid the ultimate price in the struggle. It is important that we take time today to honor their service and their sacrifice. It is equally important that we tell the story to the young people who are here today, so that they, too, will remember those heroes.

On this day, 72 years ago, in heat much like today—maybe even more—Filipino and American soldiers experienced the atrocity that brought our two nations closer together. Over 78,000 men and women began that fateful march that will forever be etched in our shared history.

With such a large number, it might be easy to forget that each soldier was a unique and valuable individual. Each had a family that prepared with hope for his, or in some cases, her return. However, many of those soldiers—Americans and Filipinos—never returned. But the names Bataan and Corregidor are now synonymous—thanks to them—with courage and sacrifice.

In both American and Filipino families, these events have been passed down by the guerillas and soldiers who shared their stories of courage and friendship to the next generations. Their shared history of heroism binds individuals and countries together and moves us forward toward our common goals. Like soldiers walking side by side, our friendship is stronger through the adversity we have faced together. It is a shared history of sacrifice that forges the special relationships of today.

As shown in history and present until this very day, we can and will continue to work together, shoulder-to-shoulder to improve each other’s militaries and our nations as a whole. As typhoon ‘Yolanda’ demonstrated, when our nations’ soldiers and civilians work together, we are prepared to react and respond to any disaster. As treaty allies, when the Philippines faces threats or natural disasters, so do we. 

We express our gratitude for our departed compatriots. We honor them (by) not only remembering their acts of service, but also ensuring our lives reflect the values for which they fought. We are thankful that in the end, peace reached our lands—the Philippines, Japan, and the United States. Each step we make today toward further peace and prosperity, democracy, and the rule of law is a way to honor their footsteps on this soil so long ago.

And today, it is remarkable that not just our two nations, but three—the US, the Philippines, and Japan—have forged close and enduring friendships, alliances, and strategic partnerships based on democratic values and mutual respect that came from the blood and sacrifice of our reliant soldiers. So may God bless their memory and bless our great nations.

Maraming salamat po.