HONOLULU (KHON2) — In 2018, the United States Congress awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to Chinese-Americans who served in the U.S. military during World War II. The ceremony was originally scheduled for 2020. However, due to COVID, it had to be rescheduled for 2021.
On Thursday, Sept. 30, hundreds of Chinese-Americans and their families gathered for a medal presentation ceremony in Washington D.C. Many regions across the country had their own ceremonies for the veterans who were unable to travel, but organizers felt that a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol was important to properly honor these forgotten veterans.
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A delegation of about 50 people from the islands arrived in Washington D.C. to represent the veterans who are from Hawaii.
“I’m here from Hawaii because there’s a large percentage of Hawaii, Chinese, some of our mentors and grandparents that were veterans that we don’t know about,” said Maj. Gen. Darryll Wong, who is retired from the U.S. Navy.
“There is not one single comprehensive data set that lists every Chinese who served,” Samantha Cheng, New York delegate, added.
There has not been a list of Chinese-American veterans who served during World War II because they served in integrated units, unlike the Nisei, who were segregated within the 100th and 442nd. It took almost four years for investigators to find names for 20,000 Chinese-American veterans. In Hawaii, 55 of them are still alive.
“Many have been hurt, many killed. The Congressional Gold Medal represents that,” said Lambert Wai, a medal recipient.
Due to Hawaii’s history of intermarriage, many Hawaiian-Chinese also received medals. Those who are honored posthumously include Francis Brown Wai, Rear Admiral Gordon Chung Hoon, Chief Justice William Richardson and Sen. Daniel Akaka.
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There is a reason that the Chinese-American Citizens Alliance pushed to get this event on the Congressional calendar. During a time when Asians-Americans are the target of harassment and violence, they wanted to send the message that it is unjust that these men and women who defended our country against our enemies now have to defend themselves against fellow Americans.