Richard Goon, third from left, training at Camp Crowder, Missouri, with fellow members of the 987th Signal Corps Company, 14th Air Force, an all-Chinese American unit. Photo courtesy of “Fighting for the Dream: Voices of Chinese American Veterans from World War II to Afghanistan” by Victoria Moy
The United States is another step closer to properly honoring Chinese American veterans who served during World War II.
The U.S. Senate unanimously approved legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth, (D-IL) and Mazie Hirono, (D-HI) to recognize the tremendous contributions made by more than 13,000 Chinese American World War II Veterans.
The Chinese American World War II Veterans Congressional Gold Medal Act will authorize Congress to award the highest civilian honor – a Congressional Gold Medal – to these dedicated Veterans, including the approximately 50 Chinese American WWII Veterans from Duckworth’s home state of Illinois.
“Despite facing outright discrimination, more than 13,000 brave Chinese Americans volunteered to risk their lives to protect their fellow Americans during World War II,” said Duckworth. “I’m proud my colleagues from both sides of the aisle have chosen to recognize this brave group of Veterans’ unwavering commitment and honor them with a Congressional Gold Medal.”
“During World War II, Chinese Americans served our country honorably while experiencing discrimination here at home,” said Hirono. “I thank my Senate colleagues for passing this legislation, which gets us one step closer to ensuring that these veterans receive this long-overdue recognition for their brave service.”Senators Duckworth and Hirono introduced the bipartisan legislation in May of last year with former Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS). Companion legislation (HR.2358) has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Ed Royce, R-CA, Ted Lieu, D-CA, and Grace Meng, D-NY.
The House bill needs 290 sponsors but as of this week, it is still 103 sponsors short for passage.
“From the Atlantic to the Pacific, Chinese Americans served with courage and distinction during WWII and it is time for Congress to recognize them by awarding them the Congressional Gold Medal,” said Lieu. “As an Air Force veteran, I am thankful for those who came before who answered our nation’s call to serve. I encourage my colleagues to join me in supporting this bill to recognize the valiant contributions of our Chinese American Veterans.”
At the start of World War II, Chinese immigration to the U.S. was still being restricted because of the Chinese Exclusion Act. Despite of this racist law, many Chinese Americans still either volunteered or were drafted into the U.S. military. About 40 percent of them were foreign-born.
Many of the Chinese Americans served in Asia as support troops to the Flying Tigers. They took part as translators and trainers and were on the flights over the dangerous Himalayas and Burmese jungles to fly supplies to the Chinese and other Asians fighting the Japanese invaders.
Since the American Revolution, Congress has issued gold medals to express its gratitude on behalf of the entire nation for distinguished achievements. The medal has been awarded to Veterans who served admirably in military conflicts as well as to civilians whose contributions have had a lasting impact on American history and culture.
Last year, Filipino veterans of WWII were honored for their long battle for recognition and equity with the passage of legislation granting them the Congressional Gold Medal.
The famed Japanese American units that fought valiantly during WWII, were previously honored with medals.
Duckworth said that, under the current administration, the stories of the Chinese American World War II veterans are particularly important.
“Their story is yet another reminder that our military and our country are stronger because of our diversity.”
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