- The "A Tribute To Courage"
Memorial in Kissimmee, Florida, at the corner of Lakeshore Boulevard and Monument Avenue. It depicts a scene from the Bataan Death March: two soldiers, one American
and the other Filipino, are propping each other up while a Filipino woman is offering water to them. It symbolises the unique
friendship between the United States and the Philippines - the two countries fought together during World War II, and the heroism
and comradeship between the Americans and Filipinos. It was sculpted by Sandra Storm and is made of bronze. A brick walkway
encircles the monument and there are commemorative plaques depicting the history of the Bataan Death March and the Memorial.
American and Filipino flags fly side by side. It is the only statue in the United States
dedicated to the heroes and survivors of the fall of Bataan and Corregidor and the Bataan
Death March .
Floridian Builds Monument to Filipino-American Wartime
Pinoy Newsmagazine, News Feature, Ellen Lansigan Elphick, Posted: Aug 20, 2009
Among the more than 6,000 Filipinos living in the Orlando and
Kissimmee area in Florida,
one particular Filipino stands out. He is small, slight of build, hardly noticeable in a crowd. The man is so unassuming it
is hard to believe what he has accomplished for himself and the entire Filipino nation in less than a decade.
Filipino, an immigrant like most of us, dreamed of building a memorial to honor the men and women who fought and died in World
War II. After the Bataan-Corregidor Memorial Foundation was formed, he worked for its recognition as a non-profit organization
with a tax-exempt and tax-deductible status.
He approached state, county and military officials one by one to obtain
their endorsements of the memorial. To accomplish all these, the man made countless trips to various offices, rain or shine,
so that his Filipino face has become familiar to both American officials and clerks alike.
The man made it his personal
crusade to see his dream come true. With the priceless assistance of his American counterpart and co-founder, Richard Herring,
the memorial was finally erected in a small corner of the Kissimmee
Lakefront Park in 1995.
our man, called by most Americans as Mr. Bataan-Corregidor, is not yet done. He wrote two proclamations to make sure there
is a special day set aside to mark the friendship between Filipinos and Americans. A prolific writer, our man is also a frequent
contributor to the Orlando Sentinel and the Osceola News-Gazette.
For one who graduated valedictorian from his Cavite
elementary school, for one who has degrees in political science and foreign service from MLQ University, for one who has a
Master's in International Affairs from Columbia University and an MBA from NYU, for one who served as a diplomat for the Philippine
government, building a memorial anywhere in the US, is no small feat for any person, immigrant or not.
For the record,
MENANDRO M. DE MESA has already taken his first
step and in the process made a lasting gift to posterity. The building of the Bataan-Corregidor Memorial, which is one of Orlando’s tourist attractions today, is his one great accomplishment.
Filipino founder, the Memorial is now a part of Florida
history and will forever remain as his own personal legacy to the next generations and to the world. And the fact that the
Memorial is the only one of its kind built on American soil, no other immigrant, Filipino or not, can lay claim to this crown
achievement as part of his or her resume.