War heroes honored in Clark

CLARK FREEPORT – A multi-sectoral crowd gathered at the Clark Veterans Cemetery over the weekend in remembrance of the friendship between Filipinos and Americans and the heroism of war veterans, Philippine scouts, and American servicemen.

Officials from Clark Development Corporation (CDC), the city governments of Angeles and Mabalacat, the United States Embassy, the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC), and members and families of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2485 attended the annual event at Clark Veterans Cemetery.

In her speech, representing Atty. Agnes VST Devanadera, CDC President and CEO, PMGen. Lina C. Sarmiento (Ret.), CDC’s Vice President for Security Services Group, said that the Clark Veterans Cemetery tells stories of sacrifice and courage.

“We’re reminded that heroism goes beyond borders. In this resting place, liberty connects us all. Known and unknown heroes here show us the essence of sacrifice and unity. Let’s reflect on this sacred ground, where history echoes with remembrance,” Sarmiento said.

“The unknown soldiers buried here, their identities lost to time, teach us that freedom’s sacrifices are often anonymous yet profound. They are silent guardians of liberty, urging us to strive for a world of peace and justice,” she added.

“As we honor those who served, let’s renew our dedication to understanding, cooperation, and peace among nations. In the shadow of these sacred grounds, let’s pledge to carry the torch of freedom forward. May the flags at Clark Cemetery be a beacon of hope, reminding us that united, we stand as guardians of liberty and stewards of a lasting legacy,” Sarmiento said.

In January 2013, President Barack Obama signed the Dignified Burial and Other Veterans’ Benefits Improvement Act (Public Law 112-260), directing ABMC to oversee Clark Veterans Cemetery. Following the agreement between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States, signed in December 2013, Clark became ABMC’s 25th cemetery.

Interments at the cemetery date back to the Philippine-American War (1899–1902), with varying historical sources on the earliest burials. The construction of Manila American Cemetery in 1948 prompted the consolidation of non-World War II dead from four post-cemeteries onto Clark Air Force Base, as per ABMC’s records.

The eruption of Mount Pinatubo in June 1991 led to the evacuation of Clark AFB, which was formally transferred to the Philippines in November 1991. Despite damage from the eruption, the cemetery remained open for burials. From 1994 to 2013, the Philippine Government authorized VFW Post 2485 to operate and maintain the cemetery.

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