By Greg Hugh
It has been a long and uncertain journey, but Chinese American veterans who served their country in World War II were finally awarded the Congressional Gold Medal on Dec. 9, 2020.
Efforts to enact the Congressional Gold Medal Act for these Chinese American veterans first began in December 2016. An exploratory committee led by the Chinese American Citizens Alliance (CACA) set out to secure the support of members of Congress. The bill, first introduced to the Senate and the House of Representatives in May 2017, was ultimately passed on and signed by President Donald Trump Dec. 20, 2018.
As a family-owned business in New York City's Chinatown since 1971, Joanne Kwong had to temporarily close Pearl River Mart’s three stores, including the MOCA Shop by Pearl River at the museum. Shortly after, Joanne and her parents-in-law Mr. and Mrs. Chen joined many Asian American community members to tap into their contacts, source masks and other PPE. Early in the outbreak in NYC, Pearl River Mart made a substantial donation of KN95s to Elmhurst Hospital and then a second donation to Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. Pearl River Mart was supported by fellow NYC and small businesses such as ea and Milk, Fat Witch Bakery, Hanky Panky and Calligaris NYC.
Joanne and Pearl River Mart are currently in the process of procuring a larger shipment of 30,000 KN95s.
Reprinted for use in China Insight only with permission by Museum of Chinese in America and Pearl River Mart
To counter the hate that has surfaced against Asian American Pacific Islanders due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) announces the establishment of the MOCA OneWorld COVID-19 Special Collection (“OneWorld Collection”) documenting the proactive steps and incredible acts of generosity and support exhibited by the Chinese in America and the Chinese diaspora during this challenging time.
MOCA joins alongside AAPI organizations to document all reported acts of discrimination against Asian American Pacific Islanders due to COVID-19. The Museum's OneWorld Collection will document the efforts of those who are raising money, procuring or donating personal protective equipment (PPE), and making efforts to reinforce the importance of one world. It will feature acquisitions of a wide range of artifacts, including but not limited to photographs, letters, articles, journals, messages, notes, certificates, medical records, videos, and oral histories of Chinese Americans during this time. This collection will not only feature stories of community efforts but also highlight experiences of individuals and families during these unprecedented times.
“MOCA knows that the history of racism against Chinese Americans, Japanese Americans, and those mistaken for these groups is largely missing in textbooks. These omissions are unacceptable," said Nancy Yao Maasbach, president of the Museum of Chinese in America. "MOCA works tirelessly to share these painful episodes and document the occurrences, and now through its OneWorld Collection it will celebrate resilience and perseverance."
Meanwhile, there is one story on how Chinese IN New York City are supporting the fight in COVID-19 you can read on China Insight’s home page.
Approximately 20000 Chinese American men and women served in every theatre of WWII defending American values. They exhibited patriotism and valor despite the existence of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and acts of discrimination. Of all WWII Chinese American veterans, an estimated of only 500-1000 are alive today.
The Chinese American Citizens Alliance (CACA) and the National Chinese American Citizens Alliance Community Involvement Fund spearheaded the Chinese American WWII Veterans Recognition Project, a “national campaign to identify, honor and recognize the efforts and accomplishments of all Chinese Americans who served in the United States Armed Services in World War II.”
Through advocacy and public outreach, the project has ensured that Chinese American achievements and contributions of the ‘greatest generation’ will never be forgotten. Beginning with bipartisan legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives in May 2017, the bills for the passage of the Chinese-American World War II Veteran Congressional Gold Medal Act passed the Senate in September 2018 and the House in December 2018. President Donald Trump signed it into law on Dec. 20, 2018, whereby the U.S Mint and project representatives set about designing the medal.
When will the Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony happen?
The CAWW2 Congressional Medal design has been completed and is awaiting final approval from the Secretary of the Treasury. Once approved by Secretary Mnuchin, Congress will set the date of the Medal Ceremony, which we anticipate will be held in Spring 2020.
What do you need to do now?
If your application was approved, you need to identify who will accept the medal by completing the Award of Medal Form. There is no need to complete this form again if you completed the form earlier.
Where will the CGM Ceremony be?
The first CGM ceremony will be in capital and the presentation will be done by Congress. In addition to the CGM ceremony, there also will be a D.C. Gala Dinner honoring the CAWW2 Veterans and their families. Seating at the CGM ceremony at Emancipation Hall will be limited. The Veterans Recognition Project will do its best to accommodate all who wish to attend. Of course, living CAWW2 veterans will receive priority over all other requests, followed by sponsor/donors with seating as defined by level of gift. It is anticipated that demand will exceed capacity and the remaining seats will be determined through a lottery system. However, all requests to attend the Gala Dinner should be accommodated. More information will be released once the date of the Washington CGM ceremony is set.
The Veterans Recognition Project also will host regional ceremonies across the country. Dates will be released after the Washington CGM ceremony in the is set.
Can veterans still be registered?
Yes, the Veterans Recognition Project will work to continue to identify CAWW2 Veterans eligible for the CGM. Veterans should be registered on our website.
Help make history!
Consider a donation to the CAWW2 Veterans Recognition Project by joining the Recognition Circle. Donations are tax deductible to the full extent of the law. Donations of appreciated stocks, mutual funds and bonds that are publicly traded are also accepted.
Gold Medal Circle
With a contribution of $10,000 or more, supporters can become part of Gold Medal Circle. Members receive the listing in materials, invitation to all events, and have the option to present a Congressional Gold Medal at a medal ceremony. Benefits for the Washington DC Ceremony include:
Four reserved seats at the Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony at Emancipation Hall in Washington, D.C.
One table (10 seats) at the D.C. Gala Dinner; and
One-page ad in program book.
With a contribution of $5,000 or more, supporters can become a part of the Founders Circle. Members receive the listing in materials and have the opportunity to attend our Chinese American World War II Veterans medal ceremonies and other events.
Benefits for the Washington Ceremony include:
Two reserved seats at the Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony at Emancipation Hall in Washington
Half -table (five seats) at the D.C. Gala Dinner; and
One-page ad in program book.
Project's website: https://www.caww2.org
By Maj. Gen. Bill Chen, U.S. Army, retired
14th Air Service Group Memorial Day Parade 1943, Springfield, Ill.
On May 10, 2019, at Promontory Summit, Utah, the recognition and honoring of Chinese railroad workers at the 150th Anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad completed the story arc of Chinese railroad workers. Along the way, Chinese railroad workers endured hard work, danger, risk of life, and sacrifices while also being ignored, forgotten, excluded and snubbed. Progress in recognition has been slow - the completed arc gave closure to the first major contribution of Chinese in America - the building of the First Transcontinental Railroad.
While not a historian, I would say that the second major contribution of Chinese in America and Chinese Americans was their service in World War II. Here I distinguish between Chinese in America and Chinese Americans, where the former were Chinese, not American citizens in America; and the latter predominately are native or natural-born Americans of Chinese origin.
Using some poetic license on what a story arc is – this article recaps the storyline of the Chinese American World War II veterans.
Source: Jennifer Zhan, Asian American News
Image courtesy of U.S. Mint
The Citizens Coin Advisory Committee (CCAC) has recommended a design for the Congressional Gold Medal for Chinese American World War II veterans, Coin World reports.
On Sept. 18, the committee reviewed more than a dozen designs each for both sides of the medal before making its rec- ommendation to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, according to Coin World.
The CCAC recommended an obverse side that depicts Chinese American service- men and a nurse. The recommended reverse side sets a World War II American flag behind an Iowa-class battleship (a class of fast battleships for intercepting fast enemy ships), an M4 Sherman tank and a P-40 Warhawk from the Flying Tigers.
According to the Chinese-American World War II Veteran Congressional Gold Medal Act, Congress finds that “Chinese Americans served the United States in every conflict since the Civil War, and distin- guished themselves in World War II, serving in every theater of war and every branch of service, earning citations for their heroism and honorable service, including the Medal of Honor.”
Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) sponsored the bill that called Congress to award this collective honor to Chinese American WWII veterans. It was intro- duced in the Senate in 2017 and became Public Law 115-337 in December of 2018.
OCA– Asian Pacific American Advo- cates President Sharon Wong said in a 2018 press release that the recognition was “very timely,” given that the law passed following the 75th anniversary of the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act. The OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates is dedicated to advancing the social, political, and eco- nomic well-being of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
“Over 20,000 Chinese-Americans served their nation and sacrificed their lives for the sake of our freedom. Although many of the veterans are no longer with us, it is still poignant that they have been recognized by their country for their service,” Wong added in the statement.
The law dictates that after the medal is formally awarded in honor of the veterans, it will be given to the Smithsonian Institu- tion to be displayed and made available for research.
Coin World also reports that the U.S. Mint will strike and offer 1.5-inch and 3-inch bronze duplicates of the gold medal for public sale. ♦
Note: Go to www.caww2.org to register known Chinese American veterans of WWII and perhaps be eligible for a free replica of the Congressional Gold Medal that is now estimated to be awarded in the Spring of 2020.
By Elaine Dunn
In 1949, Chairman Mao Zedong declared on Oct. 1 the founding of the People’s Republic of China
(PRC) and Oct. 1 would be its National Day.
That first inaugural proclamation was followed by a military parade, numbering 16,400 troops and
thousands of cheering civilians marching along.
The first National Day (1949) was captured by artist Dong Xiwen in an oil painting, unveiled in 1953. The painting,
however, had to be “edited” in 1954 where the bearded gentleman to Mao’s left was purged from the Party and the
painting after he called for Mao to retire. His spot was replaced by a potted chrysanthemum!
Since 1949, National Day in China has been marked by much bigger military parades (in Beijing and
Shanghai), state banquets, large political gatherings and speeches. In 1954, Beijing even sent a
representative to Moscow to study how the Soviets conducted such events. The result of that trip was the
addition of an “advancing forward in unison” element, where parade participants rush toward the review
platform to cheer and greet the leaders present. A “living image” element was added in 1957. This
consisted of thousands of people holding bouquets or colored placards facing Tiananmen Gate to form a
huge visual pattern.
Around the holiday, portraits of revered leaders are prominently displayed in public spaces still.
“We Are Not the Degraded Race You Would Make Us”: Norman Asing Challenges Chinese Immigration Restrictions
California had a few thousand Chinese immigrants in 1850. By 1852, the number swelled to 20,000, constituting almost a quarter of California’s work force. Chinese who toiled in mines and worked as shopkeepers were welcomed, even recruited, at first. But nativist sentiment to curtail Chinese immigration grew as the number of immigrants increased. John Bigler, the state’s third Governor, called for immigration restriction in 1852, citing Chinese immigrants’ inability to assimilate as European immigrants had. Norman Asing, a restaurant owner and leader in San Francisco’s Chinese community, assailed the governor for his anti-Chinese stance and utilized the rhetoric of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution against Bigler’s claims of the danger of Chinese immigration. But Asing’s argument also embraced some of the era’s racist assumptions about African Americans and Native Americans.
TO HIS EXCELLENCY GOV. BIGLER
Sir: I am a Chinaman, a republican, and a lover of free institutions; am much attached to the principles of the government of the United States, and therefore take the liberty of addressing you as the chief of the government of this State. Your official position gives you a great opportunity of good and evil. Your opinions through a message to a legislative body have weight and , and perhaps none more so with the people, for the effect of your late message has been thus far to prejudice the public mind against my people, to enable those who wait the opportunity to hunt them down, and rob them of the rewards of their toil. You may not have meant that this should be the case, but you can see what will be the result of your propositions.
I am not much acquainted with your logic, that by excluding population from this State you enhance its wealth. I have always considered that population was wealth; particularly a population of producers, of men who by the labor of their hands or intellect, enrich the warehouses or the granaries of the country with the products of nature and art. You are deeply convinced you say “that to enhance the prosperity and preserve the tranquility of this State, Asiatic immigration must be checked.” This, your Excellency, is but one step towards a retrograde movement of the government, which, on reflection, you will discover; and which the citizens of this country ought never to tolerate. It was one of the principal causes of quarrel between you (when colonies) and England; when the latter pressed laws against emigration, you looked for immigration; it came, and immigration made you what you are— your nation what it is. It transferred you at once from childhood to manhood and made you great and respectable throughout the nations of the earth. I am sure your Excellency cannot, if you would, prevent your being called the descendant of an immigrant, for I am sure you do not boast of being a descendant of the red man. But your further logic is more reprehensible.
You argue that this is a republic of a particular race—that the Constitution of the United States admits of no asylum to any other than the pale face. This proposition is false in the extreme, and you know it. The declaration of your independence, and all the acts of your government, your people, and your history are all against you.
It is true, you have degraded the Negro because of your holding him in involuntary servitude, and because for the sake of union in some of your states such was tolerated, and amongst this class you would endeavor
to place us; and no doubt it would be pleasing to some would-be freemen to mark the brand of servitude upon us. But we would beg to remind you that when your nation was a wilderness, and the nation from which you sprung barbarous, we exercised most of the arts and virtues of civilized life; that we are possessed of a language and a literature, and that men skilled in science and the arts are numerous among us; that the productions of our manufactories, our sail, and workshops, form no small share of the commerce of the world; and that for centuries, colleges, schools, charitable institutions, asylums, and hospitals, have been as common as in your own land. That our people cannot be reproved for their idleness, and that your historians have given them due credit for the variety and richness of their works of art, and for their simplicity of manners, and particularly their industry. And we beg to remark, that so far as the history of our race in California goes, it stamps with the test of truth the fact that we are not the degraded race you would make us. We came amongst you as mechanics or traders, and following every honorable business of life. You do not find us pursuing occupations of degrading character, except you consider labor
degrading, which I am sure you do not; and if our countrymen save the proceeds of their industry from the tavern and the gambling house to spend it on farms or town lots or on their families, surely you will admit that even these are virtues. You say “you desire to see no change in the generous policy of this government as far as regards Europeans.” It is out of your power to say, however, in what way or to whom the doctrines of the Constitution shall apply. You have no more right to propose a measure for checking immigration, than you have the right of sending a message to the Legislature on the subject. As far as regards the color and complexion of our race, we are perfectly aware that our population have been a little more tan than yours.
Your Excellency will discover, however, that we are as much allied to the African race and the red man as you are yourself, and that as far as the aristocracy of skin is concerned, ours might compare with many of the European races; nor do we consider that your Excellency, as a Democrat, will make us believe that the framers of your declaration of rights ever suggested the propriety of establishing an aristocracy of skin. I am a naturalized citizen, your Excellency, of Charleston, South Carolina, and a Christian, too; and so hope you will stand corrected in your assertion “that none of the Asiatic class” as you are pleased to term them, have applied for benefits under our naturalization act. I could point out to you numbers of citizens, all over the whole continent, who have taken advantage of your hospitality and citizenship, and I defy you to say that our race have ever abused that hospitality or forfeited their claim on this or any of the governments of South America, by an infringement on the laws of the countries into which they pass. You find us peculiarly peaceable and orderly. It does not cost your state much for our criminal prosecution. We apply less to your courts for redress, and so far as I know, there are none who are a charge upon the state, as paupers.
You say that “gold, with its talismanic power, has overcome those natural habits of non-intercourse we have exhibited.” I ask you, has not gold had the same effect upon your people, and the people of other countries, who have migrated hither? Why, it was gold that filled your country (formerly a desert) with people, filled your harbours with ships and opened our much-coveted trade to the enterprise of your merchants.
You cannot, in the face of facts that stare you in the face, assert that the cupidity of which you speak is ours alone; so that your Excellency will perceive that in this age a change of cupidity would not tell. Thousands of your own citizens come here to dig gold, with the idea of returning as speedily as they can.
We think you are in error, however, in this respect, as many of us, and many more, will acquire a domicile amongst you.
But, for the present, I shall take leave of your Excellency, and shall resume this question upon another occasion which I hope you will take into consideration in a spirit of candor. Your predecessor pursued a different line of conduct towards us, as will appear by reference to his message.
I have the honor to be your Excellency’s very obedient servant, NORMAN ASING