Bataan Memorial Park Receives Distinction
Soon after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941, American and Filipino soldiers on the Philippine island of Luzon were also attacked by Japanese military forces. After several months of fighting, on April 9, 1942 about 12,000 Americans and 63,000 Filipinos were surrendered to the Japanese. They were force-marched to distant prison camps for several days, and 7,000-to-10,000 of them died or were killed along the way by their captors. This was the infamous Bataan Death March, which was followed by many more deaths and years of captivity and forced labor.
In 1943, the Albuquerque City Commission dedicated Bataan Memorial Park with a resolution that read, in part, as follows: “The people of Albuquerque desire, in a spirit of humility, to pay tribute to its soldiers, both living and dead, who served so nobly, that their deeds and sacrifices shall forever be etched in the memories of the people of the community which they left for so valiant service to their country.”
Several Bataan veterans reside in Albuquerque today. One Bataan veteran, Mr. Atilano David, described the City Landmark designation as, “the crown jewel of the official recognitions of the park”.
The City of Albuquerque Parks and Recreation Department adopted a thorough Management Plan for Bataan Memorial Park in 2009. The Management Plan will inform future park alterations and preservation work, which will be subject to decision by the Landmarks and Urban Conservation Commission due to the City Landmark designation.
On Saturday, November 10, 2012, Mayor Berry, City Councilors, Bataan and Corregidor survivors and their families, The Filipino American Foundation of New Mexico, The Bataan-Corregidor Memorial Foundation of New Mexico, and the public proclaimed Bataan Memorial Park a City Landmark.
Bataan and Corregidor survivors: (seated center: Mr. William Overmier, Mr. Ernest Montoya, and Mr. Atilano David)