A wreath-laying ceremony was recently held at the 107th Infantry Memorial in New York City to honor Asian Americans who fought for the United States.
On Thursday, veterans of Asian descent gathered at the monument situated next to Central Park for the ceremony, reported ABC7 New York.
To celebrate Asian pride and signify unity, the soldiers and sailors who attended the gathering wore gold ribbons that bore the American flag.
One of the attendees was Japanese American Takeshi Furumoto, a Vietnam War vet who has been on a crusade to spread information about the contributions of Asians who have sacrificed their lives for America.
Born to a U.S. internment camp during World War II, Furumoto saw how his family and community suffered along with 120,000 other Japanese Americans who were also rounded up at the time.
As an adult during the Vietnam War era, he volunteered to become an intelligence and operations officer for the U.S. Army to prove his allegiance to the country that took his family’s possessions and dignity.
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As hate crimes targeting Asian Americans have spiked in recent years, many Asian veterans have been putting more effort to encourage discussions about the significant contributions Asian Americans have made to the U.S. throughout history.
Furumoto has been actively sharing his story and others like him by speaking to schools and events organized by civic organizations.
Among the most notable is the legendary 100th/442nd Infantry Regiment composed of mostly second-generation Japanese Americans. The group eventually became known as the most decorated unit of its size in U.S. military history.
“We are Americans just like anyone else,” U.S. Army veteran Frank Gee said, according to ABC7 New York.
“There’s a saying, America good or bad is America, it’s my America,” he added.
Organizers of the event reportedly selected the 107th Infantry Memorial partly due to Alexander Kin, a soldier who was part of the legendary regiment that took action during World War I. Kin’s mother Yamei Kin, who was known for introducing tofu to the U.S. during World War I, was notably the first Chinese person to earn a medical degree in the country.