On Sunday, 27 May 2012 at 8:00 a.m. in the Manila American Military Cemetery and Memorial in Taguig City, Metro Manila, Philippines, a Memorial Day service was held to honor those fallen in World War II and on the battlefields of Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Vice President Jejomar Binay, Congressman Isidro S. Rodriguez Jr., Lieutenant General Jessie Dellosa, chief staff of the Philippine armed forces, and Ambassadors from Canada, South Africa, and The United Kingdom were in attendance. President Michael John U. Teh and President Ian S. Ardern of the Area Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and their wives were among those assembled to pay tribute to those who gave their lives to protect our freedom and liberty.
Members of the Boy Scouts of America, the United States Embassy and the Makati 4th Branch of the Church had placed a Filipino and an American flag on each of the 17,000 graves the morning before. The entire cemetery was reminiscent of the United States National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia or the World War II Memorial Cemetery in Normandy, France.
A row of beautiful wreaths flanked the side of a white tent where the ceremonies took place. The Church had presented one of the wreaths this year and was recognized for its gift. The security and quiet solemnity of the cemetery provided a moving backdrop to the program which included opening remarks and Memorial messages, and music provided by the Philippine Army Band. At the conclusion of the service, taps was played at two positions in the Memorial preceded by a 21-gun salute.
The cemetery site, 152 acres of gently rising ground which culminates at the memorial, contains the largest number of graves of our military dead of World War II. Soldiers from all of the then 48 States of the Union as well as the District of Columbia, Philippines, Panama, Guam, Puerto, Australia, Canada, China, England, Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras, Finland, Jamaica, Burma and Peru are buried at the site.
Both the service and the cemetery itself were reminders of the price of freedom paid by those willing to serve their country in time of war. As Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said at a Philippine Area Office devotional the previous Tuesday morning, “There will always be enmity, hatred, contention and dissention in the world because that is the Adversary’s work, but the Lord will prevail. Where there was war in Korea and the Philippines, there are now wards, stakes and temples (equivalent dioceses and cathedrals)."