The estimated 20,000 Chinese Americans who fought under the American flag during World War II have been recently given official recognition by the United States Congress for their patriotism and service.
Long overdue: Chinese American veterans were bestowed with the Congressional Gold Medal during an online ceremony on Wednesday, reports ABC News.
- Army nurse Elsie Chin Yuen Seetoo, 102, was the designated recipient of the award on behalf of all the veterans.
- The medal, which depicts Chinese American veterans who served in every military branch in the front, is the highest honor that Congress can award.
- The event was originally scheduled to be a signature event in Washington.
- In her remark, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi noted the importance of honoring them especially that there are less than 300 “Chinese Americans of the Greatest Generation” left.
- Army Staff Sergeant David Gan of Berkeley, who enlisted at age 18 and is now 95-years-old, was among the surviving medal recipients.
Tough time to be heroes: It was also highlighted during the tribute that the Chinese American women and men served at a time when Xenophobia and discrimination were commonplace.
- “Shamefully, due to the hateful laws of the time, including the bigoted Chinese Exclusion Act, Chinese immigrants were unable to gain U.S. citizenship,” Pelosi said. “Still, in the face of this injustice, approximately 8,000 Chinese immigrants who were denied their rights proudly served.”
- When the United States entered the war in 1941, the Chinese Exclusion Act was still in effect.
- Chinese-American women were recruited into the Women’s Army Corps in the Military Intelligence Service in 1943.
Feature image via United States House of Representatives Special Events