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In 2008, Tom Udall, then a Representative in Congress, introduced a similar Bill:

 

VFW Backs Udall's Bataan Gold Medal Bill

 

Feb. 28, 2008 — Eda Mae Aimes talks about her recently deceased husband, a survivor of the Bataan Death March, and the proposed medal for Bataan veterans.

 

If you do not see your Senators among the listed Co-sponsors, PLEASE contact their offices and urge them to support this important legislation.

 

New Mexico's two Senators are on board. Further support needs to come from other states. Contact your friends and relatives and urge them to call, E-mail or send a letter of support to your/their Senators in Congress.

 

U.S. SENATE LOCATOR

 

You can track S.768 by visiting:

Thomas (Library of Congress)

Type “Bataan” in the search box.

S.768 - To grant the Congressional Gold Medal to the soldiers from the United States who were prisoners of war at Bataan during World War II.

SENATOR UDALL'S STATEMENT ON INTRODUCTION OF SENATE BILL 768

 

I rise today to introduce legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to some of the bravest soldiers ever to wear this country's uniform — the prisoners of war from the Bataan Death March.

 

For the thousands of soldiers who were surrendered to enemy forces on April 9, 1942, the years that have passed since have been filled with memories of what occurred that day and in the hundreds of days that followed. Starvation. Torture. Forced work. Captivity. Death.

 

But in the sixty-six years since, the events at Bataan have conjured other ideas for the rest of us.

 

Bravery. Sacrifice. And an unbreakable demonstration of courage.

 

“The Battling Bastards of Bataan,” they were christened by Frank Hewlett, one of the last journalists to report on the troops before they were surrendered. For four months they fought, battling daily against the enemy, against illness, and against time. And when there was no fight left, when the time for surrender was upon them, they were alone. Neither planes in the skies nor boats in the sea appeared, ready to give the boost of firepower that would turn the tides. Instead, the men at Bataan laid down their weapons and walked into a hell that would last over three years.

 

Many survivors never recovered from their experience. Half died within a few years of returning home. Others lived on in physical and mental pain for the rest of their lives — a daily reminder of the experience they had endured.

 

But the story of Bataan is not just about surrender or the suffering that followed. By holding off enemy fighters longer than expected, the Bataan forces gave the Allies time to regroup after Pearl Harbor. Their sacrifice allowed Allied commanders to take the fight to the enemy. And they made a future victory possible.

 

The soldiers of Bataan also gave America something we needed as much as guns or tanks. They gave us an example. Their story inspired American soldiers to fight and committed American commanders to retaking the Pacific. Just as an earlier generation of Americans had remembered the Alamo, our soldiers in World War II remembered Bataan. We should remember it today as a place where America's fighting spirit showed itself to the world.

 

For those of us from New Mexico, the events at Bataan strike home particularly hard. Eighteen hundred men from New Mexico's 200th and 515th regiments left their homes to fight; half returned. These soldiers earned the honor of being the "first to fire" on the enemy on December 8, 1941 — the day after Pearl Harbor. They and their families have spread the story of Bataan to their New Mexico neighbors. We feel the suffering they saw. And we take pride in their heroism.

 

For six decades, the Western world has enjoyed the freedom that the Bataan veterans helped to win. For six decades, our world has been more peaceful because of the sacrifices they made. And for six decades, those men have not received the honor that is their due.

 

This failure of memory hits particularly hard because so many of the men who suffered at Bataan were Hispanic. They fought and died in the uniform of a nation that treated them as second class citizens. While in uniform, many faced discrimination if they had a Hispanic surnames or were caught speaking Spanish. This legislation will honor American heroes, including those who were asked to sacrifice and then forgotten when the fighting was over.

 

Mr. President, we must always remember the sacrifice of our soldiers, particularly during times of war. The men and women who risk their lives today must know that America never forgets those who sacrifice in her name. By recognizing the heroes of Bataan, we show our commitment to the heroes of Kabul and Baghdad — and to the heroes of the future.

 

I want to thank Senator Bond for joining me as the lead cosponsor of this legislation. His home state of Missouri had hundreds of soldiers at Bataan, including one, John Playter, who passed away recently this year but never stopped telling his story. I also want to thank Senators Bingaman, Inouye, Landrieu, Levin, Kerry and Udall for being original cosponsors. And I also want to thank the VFW and AMVETS for their support of this legislation.

 

I hope you will join them — and so many others — in supporting this legislation.

 

Thank you, Mr. President.

SPONSOR: SEN TOM UDALL [D-NM] (Introduced 4/1/2009)
CO-SPONSORS (7)
Senator State Date  

Bingaman, Jeff

D-NM 4/1/2009 Original

Bond, Christopher S.

R-MO 4/1/2009 Original

Inouye, Daniel K.

D-HI 4/1/2009 Original

Kerry, John F.

D-MA 4/1/2009 Original

Landrieu, Mary L.

D-LA 4/1/2009 Original

Levin, Carl

D-MI 4/1/2009 Original

Udall, Mark

D-CO 4/1/2009 Original