WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives on Dec. 13 passed a bipartisan bill sponsored by Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) to recognize the contributions of more than 18,000 Chinese American World War II veterans with the Congressional Gold Medal — the highest civilian honor that Congress can bestow.
Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Mazie Hirono
The Chinese American World War II Veterans Congressional Gold Medal Act was introduced by Sens. Hirono and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), and Reps. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) and Ted Lieu (D-Manhattan Beach), and passed the Senate earlier this year. The bill now awaits the president’s signature.
“More than 18,000 Chinese Americans served our country during World War II, while also facing discrimination here at home,” Hirono said. “Like other minority service members, their contributions were not appropriately recognized during or immediately after World War II. The passage of the Chinese American World War II Veterans Congressional Gold Medal Act goes a long way to right that wrong and express our gratitude for Chinese American veterans’ distinguished service.”
“Despite facing outright discrimination, more than 18,000 brave Chinese Americans volunteered to risk their lives to protect their fellow Americans during World War II,” Duckworth said. “I’m proud my colleagues from both sides of the aisle have chosen to recognize this brave group of veterans’ unwavering commitment and honor them with a Congressional Gold Medal.”
“The United States remains forever indebted to the bravery and sacrifice that the Chinese American veterans of World War II displayed. From the Flying Tigers, to their service in the Pacific and across Europe — these heroes answered the call of duty when our nation needed them the most and are worthy of recognition,” Royce said. “To these brave veterans of World War II, thank you for your sacrifice. We are a grateful nation, and we honor your service by working to build a better world.”
“I’m proud to have co-led the introduction of this bill to award Chinese American WWII veterans with the Congressional Gold Medal,” Lieu said. “We will finally have the chance to honor the service and sacrifice of Chinese Americans who fought for the U.S. in WWII. By proudly serving their country, even in the face of the shameful Chinese Exclusion Act, Chinese American veterans exemplified patriotism and demonstrated a deep commitment to the United States. As a veteran, I’m grateful to have worked on this legislation, along with Rep. Royce, and Sens. Duckworth, [Thad] Cochran [R-Miss.] and Hirono, to honor the lives and legacies of these WWII heroes.”
“The heartfelt considerations for this group by House kead co-sponsors Rep. Ed Royce and Rep. Ted Lieu and Senate lead co-sponsors Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Thad Cochran (ret.), and Mazie Hirono mark a significant milestone for the nearly 20,000 Chinese American veterans,” said Samantha Cheng, project director of the Chinese American WWII Veterans Recognition Project. “These veterans and their families, as well as surviving family members of our departed, deem this recognition a most high honor from a grateful nation.”
“Having Congress approve the Congressional Gold Medal for Chinese American Veterans of World War II is momentous and the timing truly historic,” said Davace Chin, national president of Chinese American Citizens Alliance. “This month, as the nation reflects on the 75th Anniversary of the Magnuson Act, which ended 61 years of discrimination towards Chinese Americans, it is poignant and bittersweet. Tens of thousands of Chinese American men and women enlisted at a difficult juncture in American history, when the Chinese Exclusion Act was still in effect. We are grateful and appreciative for Congress’s recognition of service and sacrifice made by Chinese American veterans.”
“We commend Congress for honoring the dutiful service and role of the Chinese American veterans of World War II with the Congressional Gold Medal,” said Ed Gor, past president of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance.
Hirono and Duckworth originally introduced the measure in May 2017 with Cochran. The bill collectively awards a Congressional Gold Medal to Chinese American veterans of World War II, including individuals of Chinese ancestry who served honorably in active duty at any time during the period from Dec. 7, 1941 to Dec. 31, 1946 under the command of the Armed Forces.
Last Congress, Hirono successfully passed S.1555, the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act, which awarded the Congressional Gold Medal collectively to the over 260,000 Filipino and Filipino American soldiers who responded to President Franklin Roosevelt’s call to duty and fought under the American flag during World War II. Hirono, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), and congressional leaders presented the medal to Filipino World War II veterans in October 2017.