Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1822 1542313
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 032313Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6778
INFO RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEHZS/ASEAN COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS MANILA 001822
PLEASE PASS TO USDVA, ABMC
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL RP
SUBJECT: MEMORIAL DAY AT MANILA’S AMERICAN BATTLE MONUMENTS
¶1. We enhanced this year’s Memorial Day ceremony at the American
Cemetery, expanding our guest list, attracting media coverage,
inviting the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines
to make remarks, and offering a reception for U.S. and Filipino
veterans after the laying of wreaths. The Embassy community came
together with representatives of the Philippine government, the
diplomatic corps, surviving veterans of World War II, many civic
groups, and members of the general public for a moving ceremony,
ringed by beautifully landscaped lawns studded with row upon row of
marble headstones, the final resting place of more than 17,000 men
and women who fought and died throughout Southeast Asia in World War
II. At each headstone were small American and Philippine flags that
Embassy and community volunteers had planted the previous day.
¶2. In her remarks, the Ambassador honored all of those who died in
the line of duty and urged the audience to do more than simply
remember their great sacrifice. Rather, she stated that truly to
honor those who had given their lives meant that we should continue
the fight for global freedom and democracy wherever they are under
attack. She also stressed that, while today’s challenges to those
ideals are great, greater still is the power of those seeking to
preserve and protect them when they stand together. She held up the
long and close relationship of the U.S. and the Philippines as an
example of that strength.
¶3. Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Gen.
Hermogenes C. Esperon, was clearly deeply honored to be invited to
speak as the senior representative of the Philippine government.
His words were moving:
More important than commemorating those fallen heroes’ sacrifices is
remembering to “keep alive” the ideals they died for. I know in my
heart that you and I – Americans and Filipinos alike – have never
wavered in championing the cause of freedom and democracy and of
peace and security. Within our shores and beyond, we have both been
working in defense of these ideals. We continue to struggle and
render sacrifices towards the preservation of what we hold dear.
Through our relentless war against terrorism, we continue to embody
the sacred values for which the patriots, whom we commemorate today,
fought and died. . . .
On this poignant day of commemoration, therefore, I share with you
our commitment to carry on our common ideals in honor of our fallen
comrades, and for the sake of the present and future generations of
freedom-lovers and for the continued vibrancy of democracy in both
our countries and throughout the world.
¶4. Among the diverse organizations represented at the ceremony were
the American World War II Orphans Network – many of whom were
visiting their parents’ graves for the first time – the “Battling
Bastards of Bataan,” the American Legion, the American Chamber of
Commerce, the Eleventh Airborne Division, Thomasite Descendants of
the Philippines, and the Embassies of France, the United Kingdom,
Australia and the Russian Federation. At the conclusion of the
event, after the playing of Taps and Retirement of the Colors, the
Ambassador hosted an open-air reception with light refreshments for
all in attendance.
¶5. Media coverage of the event was extensive and highly favorable,
underscoring our shared sacrifices and our common determination to
remain as strong partners for the future.