Claire Phillips Memorial Dedication
The Oregon State Capitol Foundation proudly honored Claire Phillips on Sept. 19, 2017. Gov. Kate Brown cut the ribbon to unveil the newly installed Claire Phillips Memorial which is located on the northwest corner of the Oregon State Capitol grounds near the World War II memorial.
Claire Phillips, a stage actress and singer who grew up in Portland, is noted for heroism as a spy and humanitarian during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines in World War II. She ran a nightclub for enemy personnel in occupied Manila, secretly using the profits to buy and smuggle food and medicine to starving American soldiers in Japanese prisons. Convicted of espionage and sentenced to die, she was rescued by Army Rangers when Manila was liberated in 1945.
Phillips was decorated with the Medal of Freedom in 1948 by General Mark Clark and later honored by Oregon Gov. Douglas McKay and Portland Mayor Dorothy McCullough Lee. Her wartime memoir, Manila Espionage, became the basis for the Hollywood feature film, I Was An American Spy.
Gov. Kate Brown’s Remarks at the Claire Phillips Memorial Dedication
“Good morning. It is my honor to celebrate the dedication of the Claire Phillips Memorial.
As we’ve heard, Claire Phillips was undoubtedly a “Gallant Woman.” As an entertainer turned spy she was recognized for her heroism during World War II.
I couldn’t be more thrilled that the Capitol grounds now has a permanent monument recognizing the grit and determination of this fearless woman. She follows in Oregon’s proud lineage of strong, bold women.
From Hazel Ying Lee, another Oregon World War II hero, to women like Abigail Scott Duniway and Edith Green, to leaders like Governor Barbara Roberts and Senator Margaret Carter, Oregon’s history is punctuated by influential women who break barriers and expand opportunities for future generations.
Claire Phillips follows in this Oregon tradition of women who truly fly on their own wings.
Finding herself in extraordinary circumstances– behind enemy lines, just as the United States enters World War II– Claire Phillips mustered an incredible amount of resolve to serve her country and support the American war effort.
She was not a woman to surrender or be silenced, nor should she be forgotten. After a remarkable escape from six months of solitary confinement, Claire’s heroism was first formally recognized in 1948 when she was awarded the Medal of Freedom for her, “inspiring bravery and devotion to the cause of freedom.”
I’d like to thank the Oregon Capitol Foundation for honoring the contributions of Claire Phillips today with this memorial. Thanks to the efforts of Joan Plank, Sig Unander, as well as Nancy Long and the Claire Phillips family, new generations of Oregonians will learn of Claire Phillips’ bravery and courage, and find inspiration in her fearlessness.
Click here to download a printable Claire Phillips Memorial Dedication program. For best results use two-sided printing set to flip on short edge.