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Getting More Representatives Onboard Chinese American WWII Recognition Bill

Shirley Ng, Rep. Mike Takano, Major General William Chen, and Corky Lee.

By Shirley Lew
AsAmNews Staff Writer

Hello readers. I hope you’ve been following along with the hashtag #NG4CAWW2V.

For blog #4, I’d like to begin by giving acknowledgement to the friends that are supporting the Chinese American WWII Recognition Project in honor and memory of the veterans in their family.

I originally wanted to bring the photos with me, framed and to share about each veteran briefly during the meeting with the legislative aides so that there is a name and a face when I say the words, “Chinese American WWII Veteran.”  However, because each meeting is a mere 15 minutes, I was informed during our prep meeting on Monday that I would not have the opportunity to do so. Therefore, I’d like to give recognition to some Chinese American WWII veterans below. The information I have on them is supplied to me by a family member.

Here are four Chinese American WWII veterans I’d like for you to know.

William H. Eng, Technical Sergeant, US Army. He was 26 years old, from Harlem.
Allen Chan, 14th Air Force Flying Tigers of the Chinese American Composite Wing in China, from Long Island City.
Sang L. Chin (lower left), Kitchen Help, from Brooklyn.
Henry Oi (center), Bombardier, B-24 Bomber. He was the only Chinese American in the 8th Air Force. He flew across the Atlantic to England on D-Day. Photo from Boston Herald.

I would like to thank Harvey Eng, Lillian Bit, Gar Bo Wong, and Alan Chin for allowing me to share these photos of their loved ones.

Corky Lee, Major General William Chen, and I had a total of seven appointments Wednesday to gain support of the bill H.R.2358 so that the Chinese American WWII Veterans may receive the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor. We had two more appointments than the day before. The representatives were of the following states: OH, PA, GA, SC, UT, and OK. We met with representatives of two different districts in OH, which gave us a total of seven appointments.

We each had an opportunity to lead a meeting and made sure we mentioned the number of Chinese American WWII veterans that served from each state. Corky and I would “drive it home” by pointing out that it would be such a gift to have the passing of the bill H.R.2358 to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act.

Our second day of advocating included much more walking than the first. Thank goodness I put in those foam inserts into my heels, which helped. I think I may see if I can get by wearing my slip-on Vans with my dress tomorrow. My feet are a little sore from continuously walking in heels, but who am I to complain compared to what my Chinese ancestors experienced.

The appointments on Wednesday were spread out to three different areas of the Capitol: Rayburn, Longwood and Cannon. The day before, we didn’t have any appointments in Cannon. Like ground hogs or prairie dogs we walked through hallways and underground most times taking many turns, elevators, and going in all directions.

The hallways were long and the floors were not forgiving, at least not for women in heels. The offices of the Congressional members are identified with the US Flag and their state flag flanked on each side of the entrance.

While we were on our way to our next appointment, we bumped into Mark Takano, Representative for California’s 41st Congressional district. We stopped to thank him for supporting the bill early on and told him how much more support we needed. He was happy to know that we were advocating for H.R.2358 and invited us to his office for a photo.

I want to stress to my readers that we need to gain a minimum of 130 more representatives from the House to support the bill during the 115th Congress. We currently have approximately 160 representatives that have already co-sponsored, but we need 130 co-sponsors more for a minimum total of 290. We already gained the support of the Senate, so the nitty gritty advocacy work is focused on the House of Representatives. We need these 130 more supporters by early December, but end of November preferably.

If we do not meet the minimum of 290 representatives from the House to support the bill, guess what? The slate is wiped clean and the bills would have to be reintroduced to the House and Senate and we must gain support all over again from each and every Congressional member. It would start all over again.

I trust in Major General Chen, who has taken up the responsibility to follow up with each legislative aide we’ve met on gaining the support of that House representative. I think he will be able to add some muscle into the language on how meaningful it would be, especially for the Chinese American constituents in their state to see bill H.R.2358 passed.

While I feel hopeful we’ll get 130 additional representatives to support the bill, I’m afraid I still feel that there could be some small chance the bill won’t be passed. I am, however, thankful to learn there will be two teams of advocates next week to meet with more House representatives. We need to keep this momentum going.

Here’s how you readers can help get H.R.2358 passed, by contacting your representatives here via email: August 23, 2018: Getting Passage of S. 1050 and H.R. 2358.

On another topic, September 5 was Corky’s birthday.  Samantha Cheng, Jasmine and Emily (her two associates), and I celebrated with him by going altogether to see for the first time, including Corky, his photo of Yuri Kochiyama at the National Portrait Gallery. Corky took the photo during a 1980 protest in Manhattan Chinatown. The photo is in a current exhibit called The Struggle for Justice, located on the second floor. We had a celebratory dinner for him the day before. Pretty cool to have your photo in a national gallery, eh?

Celebrating Corky Lee’s birthday.
Corky Lee, Security Guard Teneka Durham, and Samantha Cheng.

During our visit at the National Portrait Gallery, Samantha began a conversation with a woman working as security; she was Teneka Durham. She was so lively and engaging with us. She was mostly fascinated by our two “walking historians,” Corky and Samantha. Everything they both said just enthralled her. They spoke about the portrait on the women Supreme Court justices to civil rights. Not to say that these two individuals don’t enthrall me, but Teneka was just so delighted to have met them both that she gave us her email and telephone number.

Thursday, September 6, is day 3 of advocating. Please use the hashtag #NG4CAWW2V to follow the blogs and daily posts/commentary throughout the day as we advocate.

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