AsAmNews Staff Writer
Corky Lee and I met Major General William Chen at a cafeteria at Capitol South at 9:30am. We were dressed professionally, armed with our schedule, names and location of the legislative aides of the Congressional members that we were to meet. Our first appointment was scheduled at 10am with Carrie Swope, a legislative aide to Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-OH). In the “sales kit” that we received in our prep meeting Monday night from consultant Vincent Eng (VENG), we were given significant data about the number of Chinese Americans WWII veterans that served from Kaptur’s state. This is data I believe most (my opinion) Congressional members would not even have, but is a significant piece of data as an add-on fact for us to mention during out meetings.
For instance, when we met with Swope after Major General Chen spoke about how important it is to gain support from Representative Kaptur, we then pointed out in a “by the way” matter that there were 243 Chinese American WWII veterans that served from that state. For clarity, Kaptur represents a district of her state, not the entire state. We don’t have the data of how many were from her district specifically, but nevertheless, providing data was key to the meeting and an eye opener to practically all of the legislative aides we met. For the state of Texas, there were 313 Chinese American WWII veterans.
In addition to that data, we also were informed if the representative had supported or co-sponsored any similar bills such as the Filipino or Japanese American WWII Congressional Gold Medal of Honor. The Filipino American WWII veterans received their Congressional Gold Medal of Honor in 2017. The Japanese American WWII veterans received theirs in 2011 when Obama signed the bill into law in 2010. So again, in a “by the way” matter, we told the legislative aide that the Congressman/woman “had also supported these bills, “…just in case they weren’t aware. Of course after telling the aide that, we expect the same support for H.R.2358 if the Congressman/woman did the same for the Japanese and Filipino American WWII veterans.
Swope was young and pleasant. Major General Chen took the lead with the first appointment while I observed and made added comments or pointed out the data. Corky Lee ended the meeting by saying how passing bill H.R.2358 would be so significant for the year 2018 as it is also the 75th anniversary of when the Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed. Corky told Swope, as he did with the rest of the legislative aides that day, “It would make a nice Christmas present”, for Chinese Americans. Indeed it would. Carrie told us near the end of the meeting that it would be a “no brainer” to vote on H.R.2358. That was great news.
I finally lead the last appointment after observing the pros, meaning Major General Chen and Corky. The last appointment happened to be with the office of Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ). She represented the district next to mine, so we were neighbors. I prepared myself by double checking who the representative was for my district, which I already knew and that is Frank Pallone. I knew it was him, but just in case I had to check.
We met with Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman’s Special Assistant, Jermaine P. Simmons. I started off by asking if he was familiar with the bill H.R.2358. I told why it would be significant to recognize not just the bravery of the Chinese American veterans by passing the bill, but also for the fact that they served despite not having any civil rights. Yes, you’re reading this correctly. Many Chinese Americans were drafted into the war despite that fact that they were considered foreigners due to the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, which was only supposed to be in place for 10 years, but was extended for another 10 years. It eventually became permanent in 1902.
The Chinese Americans during this discriminatory act were not allowed to become citizens, to vote nor represent in court. The irony that the US wouldn’t allowed them to become citizens, yet they were drafted to defend the country they were being discriminated in. There were however, many Chinese Americans that enlisted.
I pointed out to Jermaine that each us, Corky, Major General Chen and myself all had personal connections to this bill because we had family that served in WWII. I then added that my NJ representative in the neighboring district, Frank Pallone, had already gave his support for H.R.2358 (and so should Rep Coleman.)
We had five appointments with representatives from OH, GA, MN, TX and NJ. I’m happy to report that we are confident that we will receive the support of all five representatives.
We have another five appointments and I hope it will be just as successful
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