HomeNewsWWII heroes remembered in online observance of 76th Leyte Landing anniversary

WWII heroes remembered in online observance of 76th Leyte Landing anniversary

The Battle of Leyte, known as the largest naval battle in history, was “a watershed moment in the Pacific war theatre” during World War II

A city in the central Philippines honored on Tuesday, October 20, those who offered their lives for the liberation of the country from Japanese occupation during the Second World War.

“We gather here today to honor those who fought and sacrificed their lives so we can have our freedom today,” said Mayor Ann Petilla of Palo town, host of this year’s activities.

“Our heroes and veterans have served our country with the highest form of service I can imagine,” she said.

The mayor noted that previous celebrations were “festive and remarkable,” adding that so much has changed because of the pandemic.”

“We do things differently now and we look at life with more meaning,” said the mayor.

The Leyte Gulf Landing on October 20, 1944, fulfilled the promise of US General Douglas MacArthur to return to the country and liberate it alongside Filipino soldiers and guerrillas.

Despite the health crisis that prevented the presence of war veterans and foreign dignitaries this year, Petilla urged the public to “take inspiration from them, especially in the time of crisis and uncertainties.”

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The mayor said Filipinos “should learn from those who fought for our freedom” not to give up and “continue fighting, thriving, and coming out stronger.”

“Together, we can beat and overcome COVID-19,” she said. “We may be a distance apart now, but we have never been more united and more supportive of each other,” said Petilla.

Ernesto Carolina, administrator of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office, also called on young Filipinos to emulate the sacrifices, bravery, and solidarity displayed by the veterans during the war.

“Let us unite. And let us all bounce back even stronger than before,” he said in a video message.

Retired Justice Manuel Pamaran, president of the Veterans Federation of the Philippines, urged Filipinos to remember the heroism of those who fought for the country.

Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla of Leyte (second from right) and Ann Petilla, mayor of Palo town, lead the observance of the 76th anniversary of the Leyte Gulf Landing on October 20. (Photo courtesy of Karen Tiopes)

Monsignor Ramon Aguilos of the Archdiocese of Palo offered a prayer during the ceremony, asking God for “the grace and the strength to continue working for your kingdom in this time of pandemic.”

“Lord, it is Your will that we commemorate this commemorative event virtually. It is to prevent us to be infected by this worldwide virus,” he said.

“In these trying times we have been seeing coronavirus cases in our land and forcing many restrictions to be reinstated. Be with us,” said the priest.

Minister Yasushi Yamamoto, deputy of mission at the Embassy of Japan, expressed his “sincerest condolences” to those who died during the war.

He also stressed the importance of unity in battling the coronavirus pandemic.

Captain Noel Corpus , Naval Attache of the US embassy in Manila, said America and the Philippines will “continue to stand side by side as allies and partners of peace and security.”

In his solidarity message, which was broadcast online, Australian Ambassador Steven James Robinson, said “the great battle in the Pacific serves as a reminder that the success of the military coalition operations ultimately rests on shared values and friendship.”

About 4,000 Australians were involved during the Battle of Leyte, with 92 killed.

On October 23 to 26, 1944, the Battle of Leyte, known as the largest naval battle in history, became “a watershed moment in the Pacific war theatre” that led to the decisive victory of the Allied campaign against the Japanese Imperial Forces who occupied the Philippines for almost three years.

The US suffered heavy casualties of 16,043 soldiers and 7,270 sailors during the campaign.

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