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General’s Courage Provides Inspiration for Sixth Annual Asian Heritage Awards

March 13, 2009

SAN DIEGO—(U.S. ASIAN WIRE)— Major General Antonio Taguba, whose report on Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison in 2004 drew international attention and created accusations of prisoner abuse, has been chosen to receive the distinguished Special Recognition Honor at the Sixth Annual Asian Heritage Awards.

Taguba, only the second Filipino American to attain the rank of major general in the U.S. Army, published an extremely critical report on prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib that was leaked to the public, which led to a Congressional investigation. But instead of being honored for his commitment to truth, General Taguba was reassigned to the Pentagon and later, in January 2007, forced to retire.

In 2008, he wrote the preface to a report by Physicians for Human Rights, in which he called for prosecution of the Bush Administration, writing, “There is no longer any doubt that the current administration committed war crimes. The only question is whether those who ordered torture will be held to account.”

Each year, Asia Media Inc., publishers of ASIA, The Journal of Culture & Commerce, and the Asian Heritage Society, single out an individual for that person’s commitment and inspiration to the Asian Pacific Islander community. “Nothing can be more inspiring than General Taguba’s long and distinguished military career and for his willingness to place his career in jeopardy so that the truth of Abu Ghraib be told,” said Rosalynn Carmen, co-publisher of ASIA. “He is an inspiration not only for Asian Americans but for all who value truth and justice,” she added.

General Taguba’s award will be a highlight of the July 25, 2009 gala ceremony aboard the USS Midway Achievement in 15 other categories will also be acknowledged. In addition, the Sixth Annual Awards “Legacy and Legends” will bring together representatives from all branches of the Armed Services in a special salute to the military.

According to Leonard Novarro, Co-publisher of ASIA and vice president of Asia Media Inc., this year’s ceremony aboard the USS Midway has special symbolic significance for the Asian Pacific Islander community, having been the lifeline in rescuing thousands of Vietnamese fleeing their homeland during the fall of Saigon and for having served in both the Vietnam and Korean Wars. The carrier was launched at the end of World War II and saw its first service off the coast of Japan.

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Gold Star Moms Change Charter to Include Non-Citizens

Philippine News, News Report, Rita Gerona Adkins, Posted: Jul 06, 2005 Review it on NewsTrust

WASHINGTON, D.C. –American Gold Star Mothers has changed its membership rule to include non-citizen mothers of soldiers who died in battle. Mrs. Ligaya Lagman, whose son was killed in Afghanistan, will now resume her application to join the 77-year-old organization. She had been rebuffed for not being a U.S. citizen.

The rule change was approved unanimously at the organization’s 68th convention held in Dallas from June 26-28.

“She has agreed to join the organization and accept the honor of being a Gold Star Mother,” her husband, Joaquin Lagman, told Philippine News when reached by telephone at their home in Yonkers, NY. “We are also happy to have our son Anthony honored again for his service and sacrifice.”

Army Staff Sgt. Anthony Lagman, 26, was killed in action on March 18, 2004 in Afghanistan, along with another soldier, his buddy, Miguel Esposito, 22, while on an extended assignment. Both were with the 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division, and would often drive down together from Fort Drum where they were based.

Lagman’s mother, a 20-year non-citizen resident from the Philippines, helped by a Yonkers-based veteran, Ben Spadaro of Veterans of Foreign Wars 2285, applied for a AGMS membership but was turned down by then- president Ann Herd, who stood firm on the old citizenship requirement rule. The Lagman case elicited reactions from public officials including New York Gov. George Pataki, urging the organization to change its rules to accommodate non-citizen mothers.

The organization, whose objective is to honor with the title “Gold Star Mother” American mothers of soldiers killed in action, has about 1,200 members and is run by a 12-member board of directors.

Judith Young, the new president, was quoted by mainstream media as saying, “AGSM changes will continue to be evolutionary rather than reactionary. This change to our constitution was the right thing to do, but we had to make the change the right way."

She was not available for further comment at of press time. However, two ASMG office volunteers were eager to make statements.

One was Mrs. Rosemary Pizzuito, whose brother was killed in Vietnam. Expressing her gladness about the rule change, she opined, “As soon as Mrs. Lagman’s son was killed, she became a Gold Star Mother.” She also said that an invitation and forms would be sent to Mrs. Lagman to complete her application, as a result of the convention rule.

Mrs. Dorothy Oxendine, who served as president 2002-2003 and whose son Willie III was killed in action in Vietnam, told PN, “Since I first heard about it [Mrs. Lagman’s case], I’ve tried to make the change, which should have been done a long time ago. That boy paid the dues with his life so that we can have our freedom and democracy.”

Referring to Mrs. Lagman, she added, “That mother hurt the same way I did…She gave her most precious gift, her child, to our country. I know a lot of American citizen parents who won’t let their sons join the service, and she did. To me, she is a much better person. So I am thrilled about the change.”

Mrs. Oxendine also said that her husband, another Marine, had served in the Philippines during World War II.

The Lagman issue had triggered an outpouring of support not only from veterans but also from families, citizen and non-citizen alike, from all over the country. One veteran, Robert Foster was moved to write poems in honor of the grieving mothers:

“They gave their life to save this land

They stilled the great attack

She gave to us her flesh and blood

We never gave them back.”

Strong, emotional outbursts also emerged from the Filipino American community, especially from veterans of World War II, some of whom use e-mail for transmitting their reactions.

Mrs. Lagman, who was at work when PN called, had received over 800 letters of support when news about her being rejected by AGSM broke in the mainstream media.

“We are very proud and grateful for that support,” Chris, another Lagman son, told PN.

Other than Mrs. Lagman, there are two more applications that are already being processed, according to the headquarters volunteers. It is expected that more will apply for membership. About 140 immigrant soldiers who have been killed in the current conflicts in Iran and Afghanistan.

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Filipinos US Military Service in Iraq & Afghanistan