Message of His Excellency, Jose P. Laurel, President of the Republic of the Philippines, on the occasion of the sixth graduation exercises of the Institute for Former USAFFE Men, Gregorio del Pilar Elementary School building, October 28, 1943:

When you registered in this Institute, specially created for your rejuvenation, we were still a subject people endeavoring to attain the honor of independence. On the 14th of this month history took a new course, and in our favor. We are now free and independent with a Constitution drafted by our ablest men and duly ratified by the representatives of our people.

Our Flag, that sacred symbol of our liberty, our hopes, and our ideals, that Flag you and I fervently adore, now waves over our beloved land. You cannot behold that Flag without feeling the pride and the glory that only a soldier can feel—without deepening your faith in the future and in yourselves.

You are no longer the same men that you were when you marched to the battlefields to offer your lives to the cause that you thought was sacred and just. You are new men—free men—men with clearer visions and higher ideals. Whereas in the early days of the war you were doomed to annihilation in the face of the repeated onslaughts of the powerful Imperial Japanese Forces, now you are privileged, not only to live, but to enjoy the lives of free men.

I want to impress upon your minds, however, that before and above the right to exercise that freedom is the duty to help, in every way you can, to strengthen and preserve the Republic we have just set up.

I do not doubt your patriotism. I am confident that in these our gigantic tasks, comparable only to the tasks that confronted our martyrs and heroes of the past, each one of you will be willing to do his part. These tasks will surely be attended with extreme hardships and difficulties, but united and determined, with faith in God and in ourselves, we will forge ahead, surmounting all obstacles until we have built a Republic that can command the respect of the rest of the world.

Source: Office of the Solicitor General Library