California Legislators Urge Congress to Recognize Chinese American World War II Veterans

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO--Assemblymembers David Chiu (D-San Francisco) and Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley) joined lawmakers and community leaders today to release a letter calling on Congress to recognize the service of Chinese American World War II Veterans.

“Despite facing bigotry and barriers to citizenship, thousands of Chinese Americans bravely served our country in World War II,” said Assemblymember Chiu. “It is essential for Congress to recognize their sacrifice just as it has done for other marginalized groups who served.”  

“As a proud grandson of a Chinese American World War II veteran, I urge Congress to fully support HR 2358 and S 1050,” said Assemblymember Low. “At a time when the United States government discriminated against Chinese Americans, many chose to serve our country during World War II. Passing these bills will show our veterans that we honor their service and sacrifice.”

The letter demonstrates broad support for federal legislation, H.R. 2358 and Senate Bill 1050, that would award Chinese American World War II Veterans a Group Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor bestowed by Congress. Both the letter from California legislators and the bills before Congress have received bipartisan support.  

Chinese Americans have served the United States in every war since the Civil War while facing hostility and a number of discriminatory federal and state laws, including the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Before the start of World War II, Chinese Americans volunteered for covert missions and operations in China, and an estimated 13,000 Chinese Americans served in World War II even as the Chinese Exclusion Act remained in place.  After advocacy from civilians and service members, Congress finally repealed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1943.

Congress has a long history of recognizing traditionally marginalized groups that have served in World War II, including Native Americans, African Americans, Japanese Americans, Filipino Americans, and women.

“With many of them are no longer surviving, including my father-in-law who passed in July this year, we must recognize the great contributions of our Chinese-American veterans who have bravely and selflessly served our country,” said San Francisco Supervisor Norman Yee. “We must do everything we can to urge Congress to quickly pass this legislation so our Chinese-American veterans finally get the recognition they deserve.”

“These veterans are especially distinguished among the members of the Greatest Generation,” said Commander Nelson Lum, Cathay Post No. 384. “They served and fought knowing the Chinese Exclusion Act was in effect, and they were not being treated as equals by the military or the general public in our society. They deserve to be recognized.”

"Chinese Americans have always been overly modest of their achievements, even in the face of great discrimination,” said Michael Young, President of APAPA San Francisco Bay Chapter. “I’m elated that we’re finally speaking up about the great contributions of Chinese American veterans in WWII. This recognition is long, long overdue."

Senate Bill 1050 passed the U.S. Senate on September 12 and now awaits a vote in the House of Representatives.  H.R. 2358 still awaits a vote in the House.  The two bills must be passed before the end of the Congressional session in December.   

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