San Fernando honors WWII vets

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- The City Government here on Wednesday honored World War II veterans and survivors of the infamous Death March in simple but emotional ceremonies at the restored Philippine National Railways station in Barangay Sto. Niño, where the Kilometer 102 marker stands.

During the 72nd Death March commemoration on "Araw ng Kagitingan" (Day of Valor), the City Government led by Mayor Edwin Santiago, Vice Mayor Jimmy Lazatin local officials, relatives of war veterans, and students paid tribute to the local monument dedicated to the people who died in the Death March. The memory of thousands of Filipino and American soldiers who died during the Battle of Bataan in 1942 was also recalled in a photo exhibit at the future permanent war museum.

"We need to remember the past in order for us to move on. We must also honor and pay tribute to those, like our very own Fernandino war veterans, who fought for the freedom we enjoy today. This train station, the last stop of the Death March before the prisoners were move to Capas, Tarlac, will soon be a permanent museum which we will dedicate to them," Santiago said.


Earlier, the Tourism Infrastructure and Zone Authority turned to the City Government of San Fernando and its Heritage Foundation for the rehabilitation of the historic train station in Sitio PNR.

Santiago said that the City Government will continue to commemorate the "Araw ng Kagitingan" with much respect each year stressing that the city has the responsibility to promote and propagate the values from the bloody part of the nation's history.

It is estimated that around 6,000 to 11,000 soldiers died during the grueling march from Mariveles, Corregidor to San Fernando, Pampanga, during the Death March. The Death March took place to transfer the 75,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war from the Bataan peninsula to prison camps in northern Luzon.

The Japanese authorities then used the existing railroad system to bring the prisoners from Pampanga to northern Luzon after their horrifying ordeal.

Veteran VP Ocampo recalled that many prisoners died without making it to their destination. Many soldiers were murdered during the march, he said, as Japanese soldiers killed them if they slowed down or they were too weak to march on.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on April 10, 2014.

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