Memorial Day Address
His Excellency Manuel Roxas
At the National Cemetery
In Capas, Tarlac
[November 30, 1946]
We stand on hallowed ground today. Thousands of our gallant soldiers lie buried on this soil—the soil they dearly loved. Their noble spirits hover over us and throughout our land. In this hour of remembrance we glory in their deeds and enshrine them in our hearts. They are an irrevocable part of us. We are now what we are—free and marching forward―in large measure because of what they did. They poured their blood unstintedly to give us the liberties that we treasure. By an inexorable mandate from which there is no escaping, we are to continue where they left off, preserving these liberties and using them for the attainment of peace and the achievement of justice and economic security for all the people.
Ours is not merely the obligation of remembrance in solemn ritual and ceremony. Our obligation is to face courageously the responsibilities born of the times in which we live. Our backward glance into the deeds of our heroic dead gathers significance as we appreciate the magnitude of the tasks yet to be accomplished and as we gird ourselves to fulfill them.
In the presence of these hallowed graves, we must resolve to maintain aloft the standard for which they nobly gave up their lives. We must dedicate ourselves anew to the principles of liberty and justice for which they shed their blood. We must determine to devote our very thought and energy to the end that this nation may live in peace, freedom and prosperity.
The brave patriots who are buried here died in the defense of our country against a ruthless enemy. Many of them were my comrades in Bataan and Corregidor. Some of them were my personal friends. All of them gave to this nation their full measure of devotion under the shadow of the Filipino and American flags to resist a treacherous foe. These men were the flowers of our youth. They typified the courage and loyalty of our race. We can never forget them. We will never forget them. Their heroic sacrifice set a measure of fidelity to our flag and our institutions for this and future generations. They served our country well. We will not forget their widows and orphans. We will endeavor to make ourselves worthy of their exemplary conduct.
The Capas prison camp was the scene of many terrors and unforgettable tragedies. Thousands of these men died not on the battlefield. They died here because of the infamous neglect, the willful cruelty of the enemy. Capas is a name that will long live in the memory of our people as the stage for a tremendous holocaust. And as the field of Bagumbayan where Rizal fell, the victim of tyrannical rule, has now become a spot for inspiring patriotism, I expect that this sacred soil on which we stand will in time become a shrine of patriotism which succeeding generations of Filipinos will visit to revere and emulate the lives and deeds of the heroes and martyrs that lie here under the sod. I wish that all the school children of the Philippines should come to this place to feel the mystic effect of the surrounding landscape and with their own eyes see how many men have given up their lives for their country and for the liberty that they cherish. To that end this spot has been dedicated as a national cemetery. In this place we should erect a more appropriate monument to immortalize the deeds of these brave men and the priceless principles for which they fought.
We are indeed possessors of a precious heritage. We have a tradition of loyalty, courage and sacrifice of unsurpassed strength and power. We need to remind ourselves of this fact when we gather at some ground like this, sanctified by the blood of our countrymen. This tradition should constantly inspire our every endeavor. It should serve to lift our spirit to the performance of the manifold tasks before us. These tasks require the same loyalty, courage and sacrifice which these heroes exemplified here. With such inspiration, we can dare to move forward in the fulfillment of our exalted goals despite the difficulties on the way.
With the spirit of these men to guide us, I am confident that we will be able to discharge our great responsibilities in the same fashion that our fathers in the Revolution of 1896 upheld the banner of protest and our brothers in the last war resisted the oncoming onslaught of a new tyranny, drenching our soil freely with their own blood to make the life of our people richer in opportunity for freedom and self-fulfillment.
The measure of our obligation to our heroes is not formed by the words that find utterance on a memorial day. Neither should our gratitude be reckoned by what limited resources we may grant of assistance to surviving widows and orphans. Rather the true measure of our obligation and of our gratitude must be proved by what we do today to fulfill their ideals. This is what is expected of us to acquit ourselves of our debt, a debt which we are to square not with our fathers but with our children.
Comrades, I salute you. Your names and your deeds will not be forgotten. They have found lodgement in our nation’s heart. We will never permit an invader again to trample on our sacred soil. We will defend as you have done those imperishable ideals even unto death!
NOTE.―Before the delivery of this address, the President and the Chief of Staff of the Philippine Army laid wreaths on the tomb of the Unknown American Soldier; while Maj. Gen. George F. Moore, Admiral H. Good, and Brig. Gen. J. Anderson, commander of the 12th Division, Philippine Scouts, laid wreaths on the tomb of the Unknown Filipino Soldier. From a grandstand erected in front of the two tombs, the President gave his address at one o’clock p. m. before an audience of about 10,000 People, many of whom were widows and kins of the war heroes, who trekked to Capas from all over the country.