VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Filipino culture has a stronghold in Hampton Roads, and Saturday at the Philippine Cultural Center of Virginia, there was a ceremony honoring those Filipino Americans who have served or are serving in the U.S. Navy.
“I’m exceedingly proud to be a Filipino by birth and an American by choice," said Isidro Barrara.
Barrara was one of the veterans honored in Saturday's ceremony.
Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.), who's also a veteran, was one of the guest speakers paying tribute to fellow Navy members, past and present.
But noticeably Saturday, those of Filipino descent were honored.
“It’s an honor that our uncles, our grandfathers, our aunties, uncles all who were in the military brought us here that they are honored today and recognized for all their work the sacrifice that they have given up for this country," Luria said.
The congresswoman also led a Virginia delegation letter last month urging the Navy to name a ship after Telesforo Trinidad, the first and only Filipino American to receive the Medal of Honor. A future Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer will be named USS Telesforo Trinidad.
Dr. Arlene Fontanares is the first vice chairman of the center. She says Saturday's unveiling of a historical marker dedicated to Filipinos in the Navy was moving.
“To see one actually in our front yard, it has risen us to that level of spirituality, leadership, patriotism, service that has made us all really proud," Dr. Fontanares told News 3.
A people so ingrained in our nation's history recognized for their sacrifice.
“Filipino Americans have a strong force - a strong place - in this city; in this region; in this state; in this country."