HONOLULU (KHON2) — After three years, Chinese-American veterans from Hawaii finally received their Congressional Gold Medals. The ceremony was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Out of the 20,000 veterans from across the country who served during World War II, approximately 1,000 were from Hawaii.

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“Well, they finally get their Congressional Gold Medal. That is the gratifying part. Having participated in previous awards throughout the United States, we are just looking forward to seeing so many happy families finally having their loved ones recognized for all their patriotism and sacrifice they did in World War II,” explained Maj. General Robert Lee, U.S. Army retiree.

Many surviving veterans attended the ceremony to receive their medal, which is the highest honor given by the U.S. Congress to those who had an impact on U.S. history and culture.

“It was a wonderful experience. I enjoyed it immensely. I had a great time in the service. I met a lot of good friends and, unfortunately, many have now expired.”

Alton Wong, of the U.S. Army

Family members of those who are deceased also attended the ceremony to receive the medals on their behalf.

“It is a fantastic feeling. We are so happy to be able to be here to accept the award on his behalf. We miss him and wish he could be here with us today. We are so thankful for this event,” said Priscilla Thompson who represented her father, Edwin Chinn, at the ceremony.

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Organizers of the event said although the medals are eight decades late, the recognition comes at a time when the country needs to acknowledge all that Asian-Americans have done for the U.S. Military.