There has really only been one time in history that the theory of winning over hearts and minds has truly worked and that was after we fought the Philippines in a 3 year war that started in 1899. We took over the Philippines as part of the spoils for victory in the aftermath of the brief 10 week Spanish-American War. The Filipino people, who had already started to revolt against their Spanish occupiers, resumed their quest for independence by continuing to take the fight to their new occupiers, the United States. In 1902, victory was achieved by the United States. Instead of flooding the country with occupational forces, the United States instead sent doctors, nurses and teachers to help the country rebuild and grow; they also promised to return the country to total control of the Filipino people in a few short years. This act helped forge a bond between the two countries that still lasts today.
The Philippines is a fiercely Roman Catholic country that is known for having many beautiful churches. One of the ugly parts of the Philippine-American War is that the bells that were atop the churches at battle sites were often taken as trophies by the Americans. Over the years, several of these bells have been returned to the country but many still remain in possession of the United States.
One of the bells that were taken was recently determined to be the one that was in the chapel at West Point Military Academy. It was taken from the Philippines by Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Barry after a battle near Bauang, La Union in the Philippines. Barry, who was a West Point graduate himself, gave the bell to his Alma Matter in 1915. In 1959, it was discovered in storage and subsequently placed in the Most Holy Trinity Catholic Chapel at the academy where it has been rung at mass every day since then. Once the bell’s location was discovered and it was verified as being the bell from La Union, it was agreed that it would be returned to the Philippines where it rightfully belonged.
The Balangiga Incident
As much as the Filipino and American people have forged a strong bond, there remains one extremely sore point between the two countries. On one of the lightly populated main islands that make up the Philippines, Samar, it was the sight of a surprise attack by Filipino Freedom fighters that resulted in the death of 48 US Soldiers and the severe wounding of 22 more from the 9th Infantry Division (the biggest defeat by US troops since the battle of Little Big Horn). As a reprisal to the attacks, a zealous US commander ordered the killing of every male in the area that was over 10 years old; officials have put the death toll for the reprisals at anywhere between 1,000 and 30,000 men killed.
The bells that rang in the local church to signal the attack (3 in all) on the US forces were taken from the local chapel. One is currently with at the 9th Infantry’s Camp Red Cloud in South Korea and the other two are at F. E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming; former home of the US 11th Infantry. If we are earnest in showing our true respect for the Filipino people and being the strong allies that we say we are, then the proper thing to do is to return the Balangiga bells and all of the other bells that still remain as war trophies from the Philippine American War.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
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