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  • Thursday, November 08, 2007

     

    Orange Councilman Bilodeau honors WWII Veterans in Philippines

    Denis Bilodeau, Robert Perkowitz, Dr. Joan Weiner, and Paul Dimitruk stand for a moment of silence after presenting a wreath at the Manila American Cemetery Memorial Chapel

    Orange Councilman Denis Bilodeau attending the 74th Joint Civilian Orientation Conference in the Philippines participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Manila American Cemetery Memorial Chapel, Philippines this Thursday November 8th.

    Bilodeau joined a group of participants from the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference who flew to the capital city of Manila on the third stop of a week-long expedition through U.S. Pacific Command. The JCOC is a defense secretary-sponsored program for influential civilian business and civic leaders who want to broaden their knowledge of the military and national defense.

    The group was briefed on U.S. operations in the country at the embassy and lunched with members of the Philippine navy. Afterward, they were treated to an exhibition of the navy’s terrorist-interdiction skills. The final stop was at the memorial honoring servicemembers buried there. More than 16,600 U.S. military members are buried here, along with 570 Philippine nationals who served with the U.S. forces. Most died defending the Philippines during World War II.

    Bilodeau has no direct ties to the military. In an interview with Armed Forces Press Service he said he still felt compelled to show his respect for those who served.

    “I felt it was the utmost sign of respect for all the servicemen that are interred here. And I just thought it would be a special thing to do,” he said. “It is just sort of overwhelming when you see the sacrifices that these servicemen and women made in the ’40s for our freedoms.”

    Bilodeau said he feels many in the United States take for granted the country’s freedoms earned by the blood of those who died to preserve them.

    “To come here and see the sacrifices made by all these people -- it’s just humbling and overwhelming to see all the people that sacrificed their lives for us,” he said.

    Bilodeau said that the memorial visit helped frame the service of those he has met on the trip in context with the overall importance of U.S. military support in the region.

    “I think it puts it all in perspective in terms of why the United States military is here and why it should be here and here to stay for the long term,” he said. “There were a lot of sacrifices made to liberate these islands, and I think it’s important that we maintain democracy here so the sacrifices won’t have to be made again.”


    Source the Armed Forces Press Service/TOPIX

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