The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday on a resolution urging Congress to honor Chinese-American World War II veterans with the Congressional Gold Medal — the highest civilian award in the United States.
"These veterans have given their lives for this country and they served diligently and honorably," said Eddie Chen, a member of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, which helped spearhead the Gold Medal resolution. "This country should recognize their services and the time and effort they spent defending and serving on behalf of the United States of America during the most terrible time of World War II."
More than 13,000 Chinese-Americans served in the U.S. armed forces during the conflict, despite widespread anti-Asian sentiment at the time. Some estimates put the number at closer to 20,000. The majority served in the U.S. Army, in units such as the 3rd and 4th Infantry Divisions in Europe, and the 6th, 32nd and 77th Infantry Divisions in the Pacific.
Ronald Won, a 93-year-old former fighter pilot, was one of three Chinese-American vets honored at an event at San Francisco City Hall.
"I am glad I was able to serve this country," said Won. "I always taught my children three principles: God comes first, then country, then family."
Won says the Gold Medal resolution is important because many people don't know Asians served in the U.S. military. "We should expose the public, so that they recognize that Asians also served honorably in the military and defended this country."