Pelosi Remarks at Virtual Gold Medal Ceremony Honoring Chinese American World War II Veterans

December 9, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Congressional Leadership and other Members of Congress to participate in a virtual Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony honoring the Chinese American Veterans of World War II.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks:

Speaker Pelosi.  Hello.  As Speaker of the House, it is a privilege to welcome you all to this celebration of courage and patriotism.  We come together today to bestow Congress’s highest honor, the Congressional Gold Medal, on the valiant Chinese American Veterans of World War II.   

Thank you to the Members of Congress whose tireless efforts were instrumental in making this momentous event possible, and to the U.S. military leaders representing each branch of the armed services. 

Thank you, as well, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chair Judy Chu, Congressman Ted Lieu, a proud veteran, and our bipartisan, bicameral Congressional leadership for helping to ensure that this virtual ceremony would be such a wonderful success.

And finally, thank you to all those joining us online to recognize and pay tribute to the Chinese American heroes of World War II.

Ladies and Gentlemen, at this time, please stand as you are able for the presentation of colors and the national anthem.

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Nearly 80 years ago this week, more than 2,400 Americans were killed in the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, propelling America into World War II and changing the course of history.  In the aftermath of that infamous day, Americans of all backgrounds stepped forward to defend our nation.

Despite decades of systemic racism, discrimination and xenophobia, as many as 20,000 Chinese Americans bravely answered the call to serve to defeat tyranny and to safeguard freedom for all.  Shamefully, due to the hateful laws of the time, including the bigoted Chinese Exclusion Act, Chinese immigrants were unable to gain U.S. citizenship.  Still, in the face of this injustice, approximately 8,000 Chinese immigrants who were denied their rights proudly served. 

The patriotic Chinese Americans who served 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.  And wherever they served, their heroism helped secure victory for the Allies and advance the promise of liberty for people around the world.

Today, with fewer than 300 Chinese American veterans of the Greatest Generation remaining, it is more important than ever that we honor their service and remember their sacrifice.  We pay tribute to our Chinese American veterans not only as defenders of democracy, but as an inseparable part of the fabric of our country.

In my city of San Francisco, home to a vibrant Chinese American community, we have long celebrated the extraordinary contributions that Chinese Americans have made to enrich our community.  We take great pride in our city’s Chinese American veterans, including U.S. Army Ranger Randall Ching, the only Ranger of Chinese descent to fight in World War II.  His valor on D-Day and throughout the war earned him a Bronze Star with V device and a nomination to the French Legion of Honor.  And his patriotism and courage inspired his family, motivating his son to serve in the Navy in Vietnam and his grandson with the Marines in Iraq – a family legacy of proud service.  In learning of this Congressional recognition, Randall said, “I am very proud…It’s about time.”  We agree, Randall.  It is time.

In bestowing on them the Congressional Gold Medal, our Chinese American WWII veterans can now take their rightful place in the pantheon of American heroes.  In accepting this award, they bring luster to it, as their service brings luster to the United States of America.

On behalf of the United States Congress and all Americans, I am pleased to present this Congressional Gold Medal to the Chinese American veterans of WWII in recognition of their bravery and service and as an expression of our deepest gratitude and respect. 

It is now my privilege to introduce 102-year-old U.S. Army Nurses Corps veteran, Elsie Chin Yuen Seetoo, who is accepting this distinguished honor on behalf of her fellow Chinese American veterans.