WASHINGTON, D.C. (KHON2) — There is a gathering of some of the 700 Chinese-American veterans and their families for the Congressional Gold Medal which is the highest civilian honor granted by Congress to an individual or group.
About 20,000 Chinese Americans served during the war.
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Unfortunately, within the past 18 months, 5% of the registered veterans passed away before they could receive their medals. They are being honored posthumously at the gala.
KHON2 spoke to some of those veterans and their families on Thursday, Sept. 30
Maj. General Robert Lee from Hawaii who worked very closely with Nancy Pelosi’s office to make sure this night became a reality.
I’m accepting for my father, Quon King Lee,” said Elizabeth Lee Godwin from Philadelphia, PA. “He was very very proud to serve his country”
“I’m accepting for my dad,” said Richard Leong from Buffalo, NY. “His name was Leong, and he served in the U.S. military during WWII.”
“More than the color of your skin it’s what you’re able to accomplish on behalf of the nation,” said Major General Robert Lee: U.S. Army, ret. “I for one are thankful to that group because it has afforded me many opportunities in the U.S. military, in particularly the U.S. Army.”
“For all of us that worked on this thing it’s a feeling of accomplishment and giving to this generation,” said Major General Darryll Wong, the Hawaii Adjutant General. “The WWII generation, the best generation we had, the recognition that is due them.”
“That recognition shows we are one nation,” said Dorette Luke, a veteran’s daughter. “That regardless of heritage or background or places of birth, we come together and identify as Americans.”
“Younger generations need to know the sacrifices that our grandparents, great grandparents did for us to have this freedom,” said Michele Choy of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce. “So for me it’s important that they left a legacy and kids know what has happened in the past.”
“Stand tall, You deserve it,” said Wong. Thank you for your patriotism and sacrifice on behalf of our nation.”
KHON2’s Pamela Young reports she is privileged to hold the actual Medal that these veterans are receiving.
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It has something not seen on any of the other previous WWII congressional gold medals: the image of a woman. Etched on the medal is the face of Navy nurse, representing all the Asian American women who served our country. This medal now goes to to the Smithsonian for permanent exhibition.