Below is the speech delivered by Lt. Colonel Al Cosio (Ret.) during the PSHS Dinner & Banquet Dance
Good evening ladies and gentlemen,
Throughout the years, we've been meeting together. We've been honoring our Philippine Scout veterans and their heroic struggles and sufferings.
The last time I was up here, I spoke a little about what the feelings and emotions might have been life for some of the prisoners... as well as their families, and a couple of stories of what was going on in the Japanese operations not at the strategic level, but on the small unit level.
Tonight, I want to continue our theme of this reunion.
This won't take long and I've even brought my own time keeper, my granddaughter Abby is here tonight and if she starts to play with my iPad, I know it's time for me to sit down.
So what's a legacy? Something handed down? An inheritance, if you will?
It can be monetary... But it can also be a bestowal. A title perhaps... A birthright, anything handed down... It can be teachings, a philosophy, as in the case of the great Martin Luther King, Jr. or Ghandi.
A legacy can also be a sin or terrible deed that has happened in one's past or an ancestor's past... Maybe a struggle or conflict that might have been handed down to you, but had nothing to do with, as in the case of the decades-long conflict between the Hatfields and the McCoys.
So we continue to honor the Philippine Scouts and their memories.
So what is their legacy? Is the Philippine Scout Heritage Society their legacy?
To those here tonight who are about the same age as I, when you were growing up, did you ever hear your mom or relative say during good times or bad, "Wow, you are so much like your father or grandfather."
It could have been meant as a positive thing when you demonstrated a skill or characteristic or... said differently... It might have meant as a rebuke ... or a prelude just before you were punished... "My goodness! You're just like your father or grandfather!"
Children often consider themselves as unique and don't like being compared to their siblings, nor to their parents or grandparents. But, little did we know at the time, about a little something as DNA.
Well, science has certainly proven that through DNA, we are in many ways our parents' or grandparents' child, grandchild, nephew, or niece. Now people are talking about something called "Cultural DNA." I hear some of my friends say that they just have to have rice at least every other day.
I know that if I ever want to get under my wife's skin, I say something like, "You're acting like your mom." Oh my gosh, those are fighting words. She lets me have it. But if you turn it around to something positive, it can be quite reflective and one ends up walking a little prouder, feeling a little bit better, and that's exactly my point tonight.
Some things diminish over time... and time does a good amount of healing. And sometimes history glosses over events over the years... but you know what? I notice that the defense of Bataan seems to be staying in the public consciousness more and more lately.
Some of you may have seen a TV ad lately from USAA Insurance Company talking about history and how the insurance relationship was handed down from one generation to another. And in it, this elder lady turns and looks into the camera and says, "Bataan 1942."
I jumped out of my seat and said, "YESSSSSS!"
Then this past February, my wife and I were watching a movie on the Hallmark Channel.
The movie was called "Lost Valentine" and in it was Betty White whose husband had been missing in action for 70 years during combat in the Philippines. She was getting on in years and still no word or evidence was ever found about what had happened to him. But through the help of an investigative reporter, she did find the answer.
Towards the end, she was able to speak to someone who had come to know her husband and he said, "Yes... I knew your husband and I know what happened to him... He died here helping US Guerrilla Fighters... and I know where he is buried... I know because I buried him... at the Abucay Line.
I said, "Wow, I know where that is! I was there last year with some of our veteran Scouts and their children at our last reunion that was held in the Philippines."
But, what struck me was that the insurance company and the Hallmark Card Company chose the Defense of Bataan as a key point of their script. And, hopefully, it was understood by those hearing it.
Recently, I paid one of my scheduled visits to one of my mentees at the Washington State Youth Academy in Bremerton about 25 miles from here. You can ask me later what that's all about. Anyway, we were given a list of 100 characteristics we could use to describe ourselves to use as a point of discussion with our mentees. We were limited to only selecting five. My mentee was also told to select five to describe himself.
Anyway, after I came home that evening, I looked at that list again and thought of our Scouts. I selected several characteristics that I thought might be worthy of describing our Scouts. Allow me to share some of those with you in alphabetical order...
Admirable... Aggressive... Bold... Brave... Compassionate... Concerned... Confident...
Courageous... Dedicated... Determined... Dignified... Fierce... Forgiving... Resourceful...
Respected... Serious... Strong... Supportive... Tough... And finally... Valiant. Could these characteristics be our legacy?
So, if we're referring to DNA as a legacy, how about a few examples to give strength and validity to that legacy?
In the case of one Philippine Scout veteran, would having 8 grandchildren be considered a noteworthy legacy? How about 12 or 13... Or in one case, 20 grandchildren?
How about 39 great-grandchildren? Ok, let's keep that in mind for a moment and consider instead the accomplishments of the children and grandchildren of these Scouts. You might recognize yourself or know of someone who descended from a Scout in the following:
How about a fire department captain? A businessperson or founder of his own company? Directors of nursing at major hospitals and other government agencies?
How about a one star general? Certainly... a two-star general? Oh yes, a three star general! A state legislator, an author, a documentarian, historian, film maker, an Air Force Captain, news reporter, doctor and other medical specialists?
How about children of these veterans who became principals and other educators, a Warrant Officer, a successful real estate broker, a Colonel who was concurrently Chief of Security at a major university, financial managers, and so many serving in the public sector...
They are re-enactors, Chapter Presidents, and Officers.
Just look at one company, say Boeing, with descendants of Scouts who are software engineers, webmasters, contracting managers, supply managers, machinists, engineers, electricians...
How about a major computer company with a grandson of a Scout as a software engineer and an author of a computer book?
How about two families who were brought together through marriage that produced two nurses and two Lieutenant Colonels... one of which was a doctor... another child who was an educator, another a director at a major computer firm, an aerospace specialist... And still another, a computer applications production engineer.
How about a family who produced two career officers and a third brother who earned his PhD?
How about a daughter who became a special educations specialist and went on to manage the Special Olympics program for a major California city?
Ladies and gentlemen...
WE... ARE... THE... LEGACY!!!.......... WE... ARE... THE... LEGACY!!!
We recently lost some more of our beloved veterans...
But they are not gone...
They are here...
The are here in each of us who continue to honor them.
They are present when we do great work.
They are present when we serve our churches and synagogs.
They are present when we serve our communities and our nation.
When our son deployed to Iraq, my wife's advice was if he got into a bad situation to "Be on High Ground." My advice to him was, you're the son of a veteran, the grandson of two Philippine Scouts, a great-grandson of a Philippine Scout. If you get into a bad situation over there, do it in their honor.
Recently deceased Captain Felipe Fernandez once said something like, "Did we really change the lives... for the better? It is up to you, for whom we fought for to show that our sacrifices are not in vain.
With that, thank you ladies and gentlemen... and good evening!