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Cablegate: Ambassador Honors U.S. And Filipino Veterans

VZCZCXRO6385
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2587 3260748
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 210748Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2476
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS MANILA 002587

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV KISL KPAO EAID RP
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR HONORS U.S. AND FILIPINO VETERANS

1. SUMMARY: During a dignified ceremony at the Manila American
Cemetery on November 11 commemorating Veterans Day, the Ambassador
paid tribute to the service of U.S. and Filipino veterans praising
their patriotism and sacrifice. During her remarks, the Ambassador
expressed thanks for the veterans' service, emphasizing the strong
continued friendship between the U.S. and the Philippines. The
Ambassador, along with Philippine cabinet member Executive Secretary
Eduardo Ermita, commemorated both countries' veterans, laying a
wreath at the cemetery's memorial wall. The ceremony closed with a
solemn rendition of taps, and the retirement of the colors by an
honor guard of U.S. and Filipino soldiers. The event, attended by
U.S. and Filipino veterans as well as senior Philippine officials,
received positive coverage by the local media and highlighted the
shared history between U.S. and Filipino veterans. END SUMMARY.

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AMBASSADOR HONORS VETERANS, PRAISES SERVICE
--------------------------------------------

2. The Ambassador honored the service of U.S. and Filipino
veterans, lauding their patriotism and sacrifice at the November 11
Veteran's Day Ceremony, held at the American Cemetery in Manila.
Following the presentation of colors and the national anthems, a
moment of silence was held to pay respect to the fallen and to
remember the end of the First World War. The ceremony then began
with a heartrending moment, when the dozens of Filipino and American
veterans present in the audience were asked to stand and be
recognized for their service as a personal tribute and expression of
gratitude. During her remarks, the Ambassador highlighted the
strong relationship between the U.S. and the Philippines, and
expressed her thanks to the veterans for their service. She praised
the response of Philippine peacekeepers in Haiti, who recently
rescued children in the aftermath of a school collapse, and
expressed her deep admiration for all veterans and her gratitude for
their service by saying, "our thanks will never be enough, but let
this ceremony be a tribute."

3. Citing the recent U.S. presidential election, the Ambassador
said that the sacrifices of our veterans, including those buried in
the American cemetery, ensured the preservation of the democratic
principles, such as our right to vote and elect our leaders, which
we enjoy today. At the conclusion of her remarks, the Ambassador
and Philippine Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita participated in a
wreath laying. The cemetery provided a poignant backdrop to an
event, which also honored U.S. and Filipino veterans present in the
audience. With over 17,000 interred soldiers, the Manila American
Cemetery is the largest U.S. cemetery overseas, and many of the
attending U.S. and Filipino servicemen had fought side by side with
the fallen during World War II. The setting provided a true sense
of history, connecting many of the attendees and highlighting the
close ties between the U.S. and the Philippines.

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STRONG MUTUAL TIES, CONTINUED COOPERATION
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4. Secretary Ermita's remarks echoed the Ambassador as he paid
tribute to the service of U.S. and Filipino veterans. He praised
the recent U.S. presidential elections, calling it a proud example
of statesmanship and democracy. Ermita said the Philippine
government welcomed the election of the President-elect and that the
Philippine leadership looked forward to working with him and the
United States on issues of mutual concern. He also expressed hope
that the new administration would address the Veterans' Benefits
Enhancement Act which would expand existing benefits to Filipino
soldiers who fought alongside U.S. forces during World War II. He
closed by saying that honoring both countries' veterans on this day
represented a "common struggle for the preservation of democracy."
As the senior representative for the Philippine government and
Executive Secretary to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, his words
were moving and served as a reminder to the audience of the personal
connections that bind our two countries.

5. The well-attended ceremony not only presented an opportunity
for U.S. and Filipino veterans to meet and reflect on past
experiences, but also afforded the opportunity for officials from
both nations to discuss issues of mutual importance. The event
received positive coverage by the local media and highlighted the
shared history between U.S. and Filipino veterans.

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