Members of the community gathered to honor local Chinese-Americans who fought in the second world war.
According to Samantha Cheng, honored guest and executive producer for the Heritage Series documentary “Honor and Duty: The Mississippi Delta Chinese” covering the plight of Chinese-Americans, the biggest takeaway from this event is to understand that the Chinese served in World War II.
The event, sponsored by the Chinese Center of Long Island, honored the service of Major Sam Herbert Huey, who served in the U.S. Army in both World War II and the Korean War; Ong Wu, who served in the Navy as an electrician in World War II; and Sheung Chung, who served in the Army during the war. It was held at Clinton Martin Park in North Hempstead.
The veterans, too old to travel or speak, had family members collect awards from Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth, who also gave out proclamations to honor guards Thomas Ong and Peter Gong. Bosworth said, “We have such a great debt of thanks to those who served.”
Veterans Stewart Lam, Gong and Ong spoke about the World War II veterans being honored. Lam, who said he was “F.O.B.,” or “fresh off the boat,” reflected on being drafted into the Vietnam War six months after coming to the United States.
Gong served in the Army for 12 years. He spent time in Korea, Panama and England. He “I did everything they told me and I came back alive,” he said.
Thomas Ong looked back on being raised by a WWII veteran and growing up in the back of a Laundromat as a child. He noted that a big part of America was being introduced to different ethnic groups.
Cheng said the ceremony was in celebration of the bipartisan Chinese-American World War II Veteran Congressional Gold Medal Act signed by President Trump in December. She noted that every ethnic group had been honored with a congressional medal for their service in the Second World War, except for Chinese-Americans. Chen said that about 20,000 Chinese Americans served. The documentary producer said she helped draft the legislation and that while the official gold medal will go straight to the Smithsonian, veterans are eligible to pay for a bronze medal honoring their service.
Cheng, a retired ABC broadcast journalist, realized how little information there was on the history of Chinese-Americans, which prompted her to make the documentary. Now, her mission is to have a published history of all the Chinese-Americans who have served by the time the medals are being released.
“We served and served with pride,” Cheng said.