WASHINGTON – Combat veteran and U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), a member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee who served in the Reserve Forces for 23 years, spoke at the Chinese American WWII Veterans’ Congressional Gold Medal Award Gala on Sept. 30.

The gala honored the Chinese American veterans who received a Congressional Gold Medal for serving the nation in World War II despite facing outright discrimination at home, an honor made possible after Duckworth’s Chinese American World War II Veterans Congressional Gold Medal Act was signed into law in 2018. Her legislation authorized Congress to award the highest civilian honor to recognize the tremendous contributions made by the more than 18,000 Chinese American World War II veterans.

In her speech, Duckworth discussed the service and sacrifices of these brave veterans and the importance of diversity and inclusion in the military and across all leadership positions within the nation.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth

“Throughout World War II, thousands and thousands of Chinese Americans stepped up in the most dangerous of conditions,” she said. “Some were born on America’s shores… others may not even have been granted citizenship yet… but time and again, heroes like Capt. [Francis Brown] Wai heeded the call of their nation when it needed them the most …

“Look, there will always be people who want to build walls. But the miracle of America is that when it looks like those worst instincts are set to prevail, we come together and resist—together.

“Chinese Americans helped unite this country… helping build the railroad that stretched from sea to shining sea… Laying the tracks… tilling the fields… starting the businesses… and picking up the rifles necessary to develop and defend the nation they loved…  Day after day, they helped prove that America’s greatest asset is the diversity of its people.”

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