CAPAC Members and Congressional Leaders Honor Chinese American World War II Veterans with the Congressional Gold Medal

Dec 9, 2020 Issues: Veterans and Armed Services

Washington, D.C. – Today, Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) and Congressional leaders released the following statements to honor Chinese American World War II veterans, who will be collectively awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in a virtual Congressional ceremony today. CAPAC Members Senator Tammy Duckworth (IL) and Congressman Ted Lieu (CA-33) were the lead Democratic sponsors of the legislation to grant these veterans with the Congressional Gold Medal, which is the highest civilian honor that Congress can bestow:

Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC Chair:

“I am proud to join my colleagues in Congress today as we honor Chinese American World War II veterans with the Congressional Gold Medal. Despite facing discriminatory laws like the Chinese Exclusion Act, which restricted their rights and treated them as second-class citizens, nearly 20,000 Chinese Americans valiantly served our country during World War II. These American heroes defended our nation’s democracy and ideals abroad even as they faced racial prejudice at home. And they included heroes like my late father, Judson Chu, who served in the Army during World War II as a Radio Communications Sergeant in Okinawa.

“I especially want to thank our CAPAC Members, Senator Tammy Duckworth and Congressman Ted Lieu, as well as congressional leaders like Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who helped to pass critical legislation to ensure that veterans like my father receive the long overdue recognition they have earned. These veterans and their families deserve our deepest gratitude, and it is with tremendous pride that we honor them today.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA-12):

“As Speaker of the House, it is an honor to join my colleagues in bestowing Congress’s highest honor, the Congressional Gold Medal, on the valiant Chinese American Veterans of World War II. These patriotic servicemembers hailed from every state in the union, served in every branch of the U.S. military and courageously fought in every theater of the war, helping secure victory for the Allies and advance the promise of liberty for all. Thanks to the committed leadership of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and the tireless voices of AAPI and veterans’ advocates, our heroic Chinese American veterans will finally take their rightful place among the pantheon of American heroes.”

Senator Tammy Duckworth (IL), Senate Co-Lead of Congressional Gold Medal Bill:

“Our nation is finally recognizing the service of the more than 18,000 Chinese Americans who served in every theater of war, and in every branch of service, during World War II by presenting these patriots with the highest civilian honor awarded in the United States of America: the Congressional Gold Medal.

“Despite being forced to live under the indignity of a Chinese Exclusion Act, Chinese American World War II Veterans never lost sight of the potential and promise of a nation that emerged from a declaration that all men are created equal. These Veterans exemplify the greatness of an America that always strives to improve and always seeks to live up to its founding principles—and I am grateful I could help make sure their service will be forever honored.”

Senator Mazie K. Hirono (HI), Senate Co-Lead of Congressional Gold Medal Bill:

“Today’s presentation of the Congressional Gold Medal honors the immense contributions of Chinese American World War II veterans. Despite facing discrimination here at home, more than 18,000 Chinese Americans courageously risked their lives to patriotically serve our nation during World War II. Recognition for these Chinese American veterans’ valor and sacrifice is long overdue, and awarding them the highest civilian honor that Congress can bestow is an important step in showing our gratitude for their service during the war.”

Congressman Ted Lieu (CA-33), House Co-Lead of Congressional Gold Medal Bill:

“I’m proud to have co-led the introduction of the Chinese American World War II Veterans Congressional Gold Medal Act to award the highest civilian honor—a Congressional Gold Medal—to these heroes. From the Atlantic to the Pacific, Chinese Americans served with courage and distinction during World War II. Even with the Chinese Exclusion Act in place, almost 20,000 of these brave men and women served in the armed forces in every theater of battle and every branch of service, earning citations for their heroism and honorable service. As a veteran, I’m grateful to have worked on this bipartisan, bicameral legislation with Senators Tammy Duckworth and Mazie Hirono as well as former Representative Ed Royce and Senator Thad Cochran to honor the lives and legacies of our World War II heroes.”

CAPAC Leadership

Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06), CAPAC First Vice Chair:

“Today, our nation honors the sacrifices and bravery of Chinese American World War II Veterans. Despite facing despicable discrimination and racism, especially through the Chinese Exclusion Act, thousands of Chinese Americans answered the call of duty. I applaud the Chinese American World War II Veterans for their bravery, sacrifices, and patriotism. Congratulations to the Gold Medal awardees. We are forever grateful.”

Congressman Mark Takano (CA-41), CAPAC Second Vice Chair:

“During World War II, Chinese American men and women stepped up to serve our country with bravery, resilience, and, above all, patriotism. Chinese American servicemembers fought alongside their fellow Americans with a shared love of country. Today, we celebrate the Congressional Gold Ceremony for Chinese American WWII Veterans, tell a more complete story of the Chinese Americans who fought for our country and the systemic challenges they faced, and finally, thank them for their service.”

CAPAC Executive Board Members

Congressman Ed Case (HI-01):

“This long wait is over. I join with all Americans in saluting our Chinese Americans veterans who served our country so selflessly in World War II. In my home state of Hawaii, they include Army Captain Francis Wai, posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his leadership in battle against the enemy during the invasion of Leyte in the Philippines in 1944. Words cannot fully express our gratitude for the sacrifices these veterans made and risks they took. But today we provide some small recognition and pause to remember and reflect on what they gave for us all.”

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02):

“Chinese American veterans who served in World War II are brave servicemembers who answered the call to protect freedoms they themselves did not enjoy due to the Chinese Exclusion Act and anti-Chinese sentiment of the time. Despite these hurdles, Chinese Americans excelled in the Armed Forces, with many awarded for their bravery in combat. After the war these veterans continued to distinguish themselves, striving to improve their communities through business and public service. The perseverance, valor, and patriotism of our Chinese American veterans is humbling, and I join my colleagues in congratulating these brave heroes and their families on this historic occasion.”

Congressman TJ Cox (CA-21):

“Today, we honor the brave Chinese Americans who answered the call to defend their country in World War II. When they signed-up they agreed to risk their lives not only to fight the evils of fascism threatening the world, but also to protect the ideals that America was founded on. The ideals of freedom, equality, and the right of every American to speak up for what they believe in. I’m proud to join my fellow Chinese Americans in recognizing the great sacrifice these Americans made to ensure that those American ideals were protected, to ensure that we all have the chance to make our own path in our country.” 

Congressman Al Green (TX-09):

“I salute the Chinese American veterans being recognized today with the Congressional Gold Medal – the highest civilian recognition bestowed by Congress – for their bravery and selfless service to our nation during World War II. At a time when many of these individuals were ineligible for citizenship because of the Chinese Exclusion Act, these veterans persisted, fighting for the country they call home. They are more than deserving of this esteemed honor.”

CAPAC Associate Members

Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01):

“We are indebted to the Chinese Americans who made tremendous sacrifices while serving our country in WWII. This recognition is long overdue. This Gold Medal expresses our appreciation for the valiant service of these veterans, who served ably abroad despite facing blatant discrimination at home. We thank them and their families, and we recognize their heroic efforts.”

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12):

“Today, we recognize the tremendous contributions made by more than 18,000 Chinese American World War II veterans who volunteered to risk their lives to protect their fellow Americans by awarding them the Congressional Gold Medal. Despite facing racial discrimination at home, these Americans showed true patriotism and service to our country. It is only right that we finally pay national tribute to these heroes by awarding them with our nation’s highest civilian honor. These veterans are finally receiving the long overdue recognition they deserve.”

Congresswoman Susie Lee (NV-03):

“Today, we recognize the brave Chinese American World War II veterans who put their lives on the line for our country with Congress’s highest honor, the Congressional Gold Medal. This is the least we could do to show our gratitude to these veterans who embody service and sacrifice for the greater good. Thank you for all you have done to keep us safe. We honor you today and every day.”