Historical Highlights

The Congressional Gold Medal is awarded to Chinese Americans who served in World War II

December 09, 2020
The Congressional Gold Medal is awarded to Chinese Americans who served in World War II Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony, 9 December 2020, United States House of Representatives Special Events YouTube, https://youtube/iETfRFJHtm4. One of the first virtual Congressional Gold Medal Ceremonies to be held due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the ceremony featured leadership from both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
On this date, Chinese-American veterans who served in the Second World War were collectively awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in an online ceremony. The medal, Congress’ most prestigious civilian award, commemorated the thousands of Chinese Americans who enlisted in all branches of the United States armed forces and served in all theaters of the conflict. Despite being subject to racial discrimination for decades—the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was not repealed until 1943 —more than one in ten Chinese Americans joined the armed forces between 1941 and 1946. Legislation authorizing the gold medal was signed into law on December 20, 2018, and arrangements were made for a ceremony to take place in April 2020 in the Capitol Visitor Center. Due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was postponed and moved to a virtual format. Those honored during the one-hour ceremony included Francis Wai, an Army Captain who posthumously earned the Distinguished Service Cross—and later the Medal of Honor—for his heroic leadership during the invasion of Leyte in the Philippines. In addition to those who fought in combat roles, the gold medal authorizing legislation also honors Chinese-American women who joined the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) and the Naval Women’s Reserve (WAVES), serving as pilots, nurses, and support personnel. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California delivered remarks at the ceremony along with other House and Senate leaders and the branch chiefs of the armed forces. The ceremony included video of surviving veterans as they received copies of the gold medal in their homes. A series of Congressional Gold Medals issued in the early twenty-first century have recognized the service of marginalized groups during the Second World War, including the Tuskegee Airmen, the Montford Point Marines, the Native American Code Talkers, and the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs).

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