Skip to main content

tv   Chinese American World War II Military Service  CSPAN  August 12, 2021 6:40pm-7:35pm EDT

6:40 pm
>> this is the third of a three-part series on the chinese in america, with historian and storyteller charlie chin. you can view this and other american artifacts at our website, c-span.org/history. next on american history tv, a discussion on efforts to document the more than 22,000
6:41 pm
chinese-americans who served in the u.s. armed forces during world war ii. welcome, everyone. thank you for joining us this evening. >> thanks for having us. >> i want to begin by talking to samantha. samantha, how did your work on the stories of chinese-american veterans begin? >> this actually started -- this stems from a documentary i did on the mississippi delta chinese and i needed to find the right hook to tell the story of the chinese-americans in the mississippi delta. chinese-american history is not sexy, so it took me almost 20 years to find the right way to tell the story compelling enough to bring in a full audience. and i had the good fortune of meeting dr. gong, who had done a tremendous amount of research on the veterans, the service personnel from the mississippi
6:42 pm
delta. and from there, we discussed and talked about how to create a three-part series that aired on pbs on the chinese in the mississippi delta and that got me interested in the world war ii veterans. >> so honor and duty is really a compendium that lists all 22,000 plus chinese-americans that served in world war ii, correct? >> that is correct. this research was conducted over three years' time. actually, just a little bit more than three years. we have been able to identify 22,827 world war ii vets. we were able to verify their service through public domain sites, public information sites, through the national archives, and through other primary sourced material. >> and so what is your eventual
6:43 pm
goal, you know, with this project? what is your hope for it? >> well, my hope is to have the service of chinese-americans recorded in american history, that we are not passive americans, we are patriotic, as everyone else is. we are as american as everyone else. we just look a little different. you know, we can't change what our face looks like, but in our hearts we are still all americans. >> and this is such an important story to be told. the chinese-americans were just one of many ethnic groups that contributed. but every american that served in world war ii deserves to be recognized for their service. this was a massive project, as you've said. and it eventually ended up at over 1,100 pages, is that right? >> yeah, it's at exactly 10,000 -- excuse me, 1,098 pages. and it's a huge roll.
6:44 pm
1,000 of those pages are a roll call based on state. so it's separated by state. there's an index that you can follow. there's an index for what we call the main roll call and then there's an index for the disparate data set roll call. you can find your family members that way. we also have aliases that were known to us, so that's published in the parenthetical. there's a lot of annotation and a lot of cross-referencing. >> no doubt this would be a very invaluable resource to researchers well into the future. now, of course, you didn't do this alone. i want to turn to one of your partners on the project, frank. >> yes. >> you provided research support on the project, so i wanted to ask you how you became involved with this massive undertaking. >> samantha was referred to me by a retired army general who i
6:45 pm
had worked with on a different project, so she said she needed help identifying information about chinese-american soldiers and i said, all right, i can do that offline. and so i began doing that. she would send me snippets of information, a lot of photographs, some documents saying, okay, what does this document mean, what did these initials mean. he says he's in the army air corps or air force, but it looks like an army uniform. and i had to explain, well, the army air force and army air corps were part of the army and they wore the same uniform. it wasn't until 1947 and the air force becoming a separate organization that they designed their own uniforms. and it just sort of grew from there.
6:46 pm
>> you raise a lot of important points that i think a lot of our viewers who have tried -- have done world war ii research on their own will have come across. the army during world war ii really spoke a language of its own. they really invented the modern -- the acronyms that are so abundant in our society today. so was there ever a question that samantha sent you that really proved challenging or difficult, maybe talk about what resources you may have used to discover these things. >> talk about the foot locker. >> that's what i was going to say. yeah, she said, okay, here's a picture of a foot locker. what can you tell me about it? and i said, it's olive drab. i said, okay, it's got the guy's name, it's got his serial number, and i could trace back and say, okay, based upon his serial number, he went into the army at this general location. i think there was a patch or two on it.
6:47 pm
i looked those up and i said, okay, here's what the patch was, it was -- one is such and such a unit and it was an air corps unit. yeah, and there was other things of samantha, i've got no idea. >> it was quite an adventure, tyler. and it was truly a partnership, because it wasn't just frank. i mean, frank can speak to the amount of time that we spent at the american legions, but let's not forget that this project also stems from the organization to advocate for service men and women to be honored and recognized for the congressional gold medal. so it was very, very important for us to have a better understanding of the contribution of chinese-americans in this war effort and that helped us
6:48 pm
advocate with greater authority on the hill. and i am proud to say, without fang's support of this bill in congress and his diligence of him and his wife, barbara, coming down to washington on a regular basis, whenever i called and said, fang, i need you, he was always there. so this was a great community. elaine semrau, her father served in world war ii, and it was her story and her father's story that compelled me to take this a whole other level further than just having them featured in a documentary series. it was so important to realize that this chinese men and women served, they had no path to citizenship, yet they served anyway. they truly believed that they
6:49 pm
could contribute something to the united states of america, and they did so willingly with great sacrifice to them and their families. >> and that gave all the greater impetus to your project. so frank provided the valuable research support and you really had this bigger, overarching goal and driving force behind the project and the personal aspect, the door-knocking, the connections that you had to discover, seem so important to this work. i wanted to ask fang about that. fang, the american legion was founded after world war i, i think most people will recall. but world war ii veterans swelled its ranks after returning home in 1945 and '46. could you speak a little bit about the contributions that chinese-american veterans made to the legion and then also what role you played in this project? >> well, the legion membership actually reached an all-time high, over 3 million after world
6:50 pm
war ii, and needless to say, we recognized over 20,000 chinese-americans that served. not everybody joined the american legion. the chinese-americans that have joined and created their own american legion out of necessity after the war, especially in the larger cities like, you know, new york and san francisco and so forth, they recognized that after you serve as a veteran, this government does offer many benefits that could help them moving into quote/unquote the mainstream faster, things like gi bills, educations, loans, and, you know, all the other good things, medicals, that goes with it. if you ask me what is the biggest contribution of the chinese-american world war ii veterans, i would believe that
6:51 pm
their biggest contribution is outside of the american legion, because our number doesn't make any difference anywhere, except where any chinatown is located. those 20,000 returned chinese-american veterans, they went back and utilized the benefit the government offered and they bettered themselves. and by bettering themselves, most of the time they served as a bridge between the confine of the old chinatown to the outside world. and then because of the law where the chinese exclusion act was vetoed and they were allowed to start bringing the wife, all of a sudden you changed from the chinatown community or chinese community from a bachelor, single bachelor, period, to a community that's actually
6:52 pm
resembles a normal society community, wife, young kids, all that. and because of their service with the u.s. government, their wife and children gets a better opportunity to go into school, education, jobs, and that's where all the chinatowns around the united states, around the big cities start to flourish. and it actually moved the chinese -- i guess it moved us forward a lot quicker than we would if we have to rely on ourselves to make it. >> you raise a great point, fang, about the american legions, and not only the role that chinese-americans played in the legion, which was a local organization as much as it was a national advocacy group, but also the legion's role in helping these chinese-americans come back after the war. and to that point, i think it would be great to ask elaine
6:53 pm
about your father's service during the war. did he ever talk about his military service to you? >> when we were growing up in mississippi, none of my siblings nor i remember him talking about his service while we were growing up in mississippi. but then that could be because we were so young, it could have been that he was so busy with his own business and, you know, the jobs of raising a family. but he really didn't talk very much about the war itself. however, there was always war memorabilia in the house. there was a sword that he had gotten when he was in japan for the occupation that hung in our house. he had memorabilia from the philippines, baskets, and he kept the personal items, the personal effects. so we always knew that that was
6:54 pm
part of his background and we probably didn't really address it until we were older, we were young adults. as a matter of fact, i recently came across a letter that my dad had written me back in 1970 when my brother was also serving in vietnam at the time and he did make reference to the comparison between my brother's years or experiences in vietnam versus his experience in the south pacific during world war ii. so he really didn't start talking about it until we were all young adults and then he started talking more about it in earnest when he was probably closer toward retirement. then the grandchildren came along. he had four grandkids, and my sister and i tried to make sure that we actively engaged the children with their grandfather
6:55 pm
and asking him questions. we tried to record it as best we could. and then in the mid-'90s, dad decided to write his memoir, so he did. it was basically a stream of conscious -- you know, just random thoughts, but he did try to express some of his experiences, and he did devote a number of passages to his experiences during world war ii. >> it sounds like it was a really formative experience in his life that he was really proud of, judging by how prominently he displayed those things in your home and how he mentioned it to your brother later on. and how do you think his war experiences maybe shaped his outlook on being an american later in life? >> well, i think ever since my father came to the states, which
6:56 pm
was in 1930, he was 13 years old, he was very excited about being there. his family essentially had sent him to america so that he would get an education and he would ultimately get a job, so that he could support the family back in china. and so he always had a very strong feeling and patriotism about america, even as a young boy, and he expressed that throughout his entire life. he talked about being an american, he talked about how americans were so ingenious, that they had lots of integrity. he was all 100% american in his thought and even in his purchases. he reflected that in his purchases. he refused to buy any car other than an american car. all his appliances, everything was always american.
6:57 pm
so he definitely -- you know, that kind of pride was transferred over to the family. >> and his war experiences helped him meet your mother, is that correct? >> he did -- yes, my mother was a war bride and they met in china when my father went back after world war ii had ended, he went back to see his family. they had been separated for 16 years, so that was the very, very big event. and then as it turned out, mutual -- well, actually it was my mother's brother -- it was my father's brother who basically introduced them. because they were working for -- i'm sorry, i can't remember what the organization would be, but it had to do with the relief and assistance to china after the war by the allies.
6:58 pm
and so, anyway, they met and it wasn't too long that they decided that they would get married, and so that was in the fall of 1946. and they knew that their life was going to be in america. there was no talk about staying in china. and so they arrived in san francisco in january of 1947. >> that's really an incredible story. and your own family story is just one of the stories behind the names that were included in samantha's book. i wanted to ask samantha and frank, how much information was it your goal to include about each veteran? i mean, obviously a book that includes the personal stories of each one would be beyond the scope of your abilities, i suppose, right? >> oh, completely beyond the scope of our ability. that would be impossible,
6:59 pm
because there is very, very little information available at this juncture. many of our veterans have passed. so we provide eight-point data points, their name, rank, serial number, any alias, their branch of service, their place of birth, whether or not they were a citizen. what was the last one? i have to look. let me just pull the book out. my memory is tough. so branch, service number, rank, date of enlistment, year of birth, place of birth, their race. because there was some interesting findings in our research that, because chinese -- because of the chinese exclusion act, chinese
7:00 pm
was not a category that you can check a box off in your enlistment form. so also intake is subjective. so many of our veterans were called something other than other than chinese, and they were black, they were white, they were oriental, they were singkian, which that side me, frank, 100%. what is the sink in? they were referred to everything else but chinese. it wasn't until the repeal of the chinese exclusion act in 1943 that they started to see the ethnicity of chinese mentioned in any of the service records. so. >> that act was only repealed because lobbying from a lot of congressman and chinese americans, because china was
7:01 pm
such a staunch ally of the united states during world war two. and was fighting the bulk of the japanese forces in the pacific. >> it's like the shaming of madame shanghai to the congress. she addressed both houses of congress and shamed them for their horrible treatment of chinese, and they were allies. she pointed out going, what that is going on guys. we are allies, and you have no path for citizenship. you are treating chinese and chinese americans like second class citizens. so, that immediately guilted a lot of people into advocating for the repeal of the chinese exclusion act. but what's very curious here is that the chinese exclusion act itself, as a name, is still on the books. all the language within the bill has been -- has not disappeared, but doesn't appear when you
7:02 pm
look at the congressional record because it was repealed. however, the actual act itself in terms of name still is on the congressional marker. >> and speaking -- >> but kind of curious stuff that i sent you, and make you go through? >> the biggest thing was working through the full three information, the list based information from nara, the naran list based upon chinese sounding names, and trying to figure out if robert e. lee from virginia, and robert e. lee from california, were they chinese or english ancestry. and there is a couple other names where the european name and chinese last name are the same. and that meant going in,
7:03 pm
searching, finding the person, and doing a genealogical search on them to find out who their parents were. >> the research aspect of this book was huge. they were very fortunate to have teams of young people who are paid, everybody was paid, no one worked for free, so, who helped support and research this effort we. >> it must have been especially challenging, because like a lot of immigrants, chinese americans did change their names sometimes willingly out of necessity and that would make tracking them down and doing their genealogy more challenging, i imagine. >> it wasn't easy, but it was incredibly fulfilling. whenever we found something -- because
7:04 pm
our expectations were zero. when you start from zero, and you hit 100, you are excited. we spent weeks upon weeks of going to the national archives at the beginning of this project looking for data, and we would go to nara in college park and park ourselves on the second floor where the military data as was as well as on the fourth floor where the static images were. we couldn't find anything, when we looked under world war ii. when we looked under chinese, it kept giving us china as we the chinese with chinese american participating, but there are no chinese americans, they were all western. after weeks and weeks of research, we finally found to images that just brought us
7:05 pm
great joy and motivation to go forward. all these little nuggets of information. these treasures that we hold so clear dear and close to our heart that kept us motivated. like the picture behind me. this photograph was taken in 1943 in dayton, ohio. it's the army corps, marching, it's the 14th service group, who were in a military base near dayton, ohio who were marching on july 4th. when we found this image we were like, yay, we really did participate! we did exist! we found an image of two men, two soldiers, a moy and a lee -- no,
7:06 pm
a moy and a wong, who were being sworn in as citizens in cbi, in the china burma indian theater. finding that image was phenomenal. then finding the highest ranking service personnel who was a commissioned officer, an edwing l. yang, finding his photograph in the national archives validated our research, and it was those little negatives that kept us going because trust me, it didn't come all at once. we have to continue to search and continue to search. it was painstaking but really rewarding. that's why getting this book published was huge. huge. >> so satisfying at the end of a long journey. part of this challenge must have been that chinese americans rather than african americans didn't serve, so they really were in every branch of the service. >> yes they were. once they started this project, our
7:07 pm
advisor out of massachusetts, doctor wong had said to us there were only 12,000 chinese americans who served. we are scratching our heads going that's a pretty low number. we will take your word for it, and as we searched more the numbers kept growing until we got to 22,827. that's the final count. and since we published the book, there has been more. we are getting more service notifications. we've gotten at least a half dozen since we published. and we've only been published for about two weeks now. so that's when we sent the document to our distributor. >> the 14th air support group, which is in the picture behind
7:08 pm
samantha, was a -- all chinese unit that was formed to deploy to china as part of the 14th air force under the theory of, ah, we have all these chinese american soldiers. they will speak the language. and thus, they can be over there and help integrate the american air groups into the chinese units there. not integrate them into the units. but help them, just like americans who went to england, get to know the locals, and they foundout, one, some of the chinese that had been born here didn't know any chinese. or two, where they were located, instead of speaking mandarin chinese, these folks spoke cantonese. over in china. >> or derivatives thereof. i
7:09 pm
mean, there was no common language amongst the chinese who were living in the united states, and the chinese who were serving in the chinese air force oor the chinese armed forces in china. they were centralized, in kunming and what was the other area? my geography is a little bit off. >> chunking? >> chunking. nobody spoke the seam diaectg. their whole vision of having
7:10 pm
this chinese american air support group to help facilitate language did not work. >> it might come as he surprise to many of our viewers as well, there was an american military presence during world war ii as part of the air force and strategic bombing campaign against japan. >> very few people know that for some reason. it's disturbing to me. it was a huge theater. gosh. >> people know only of the fallen tigers. american volunteer group who went on before the war started and then was active for six months. they became the centerpiece of what became the 14th air force that served in china. and then you had the bulk of the green onto units, we are actually in burma, and india. and the main american force within the boundaries of china itself was the army air corps, army air force. >> that's absolutely right. thank, i would like to add something to what we are talking about. having a whole chinese american gis as a unit.
7:11 pm
yes, it's true that originally, i guess the idea is that they speak the language and all of that. the language is the same, it's the dialect that kills everybody. the majority i must say, 90% of the year the chinese served in the war in the state even though they are born in the united states, chances are that their parents immigrated from the southern part of china. that is all that it is. so back then, mandarin and cantonese are not the main languages and chinatown. it's taishanese, a local dialect and a small part of china. of course, when they went over to try to they were stationed in -- those are different dialects altogether. and mandarin is spoken among the unit deployed with the chinese army. so you have a lot of issues there. the other thing is that i found out
7:12 pm
from speaking to some of the seniors from my legion. a lot of them are traveling back and forth, a lot of them are truck drivers. they carry the supplies to the back. not to the front, the back, which is in the kunmming, chunking area. so a lot of them were forced to be a chance later and they learned as they go, because the dialect sometimes, you can pick up a little bit easier if you have the background. so it's not a total failure, but it took a lot of effort to make it happen. >> i think for a lot of americans, world war ii is the first time out of the country. even if they were immigrants, when they came to the united states, they would stay in one general area whether it was mississippi or whether it was
7:13 pm
chinatown. and when they went overseas, there are great differences and local cultures probably was a shock to them. the same thing in germany. there are different dialects just like in china, or in switzerland, they speak german, but it's a lot different than in northern germany. so fang, with your experience as an alicia, did those networks, and the close ties that resulted from a lot of the chinese immigrants being from the same area help to locate any veterans for this project? yes. i didn't realize it when i joined the legion. i joined the legion accidentally because the legion did inform me when i was a little boy. when i was 15, i
7:14 pm
had only been in the states for 15 years and gone to a chinese school to try to keep up with my chinese. summer graduation, these tall guys walked to the stage and he presented me with a check, a scholarship check, i found out later, and a metal. he was from the legion. i had no idea what it was all about. as for the legion goes. then i learned you have to serve to learn -- earned the eligibility to join the legion. so i want to vietnam, come back, and i joined. my scope at that time was strictly just new york legion, i thought that was the only one. after i got involved with it shortly after i found out that there were chinese legion posts in boston, san francisco, chicago, detroit, over the place. but sadly, because all of them were started by the world war ii detention, and after the war obviously not as many chinese joined the service inthe united
7:15 pm
states. they have less and left membership. by the time i made my entry into the american legion a lot of the posts were not active. but when i was getting ready to make my campaign stops that the united states i found out that the chinese had heard about it. they reached out, came to me, and said i belong to --, and we are glad to have you. finally we have someone who can make it to the top, and all of that. i was walking in -- working in phoenix, a group of chinese came out of nowhere, they grabbed ahold of me and they said they were a legion as well. they were not active, for whatever reason they weren't involved. they had to settle in their community and do their things. so they were happy. they said you are fancy. the national convention in phoenix, so therefore they came to phoenix. the year before i got elected, we had a national convention in milwaukee. i was
7:16 pm
walking around, speaking to different state delegates and all of that. and all of a sudden somebody from illinois sector, said i want you to come over and introduce you to someone. i walked over, there a couple of elder chinese gentlemen, and they belong to the chinese american legion in chicago. i never heard of the chicago legion, but they said, so they were happy. los angeles, when i was campaigning, one of the seniors, he was world war ii definitely, he walked up and said, we used to have a post after the war, but then everybody got old. but now i would like to get it restarted. can you help me? >> i said sure. it took us awhile, but we were able to get that post started again in los angeles, chinatown. and we would actually get the same numbers awarded back to them.
7:17 pm
so by getting involved in the american legion, deeply involved in the legion, it definitely strike to some sort of interest from various corners. seattle. people just come out of nowhere. and before that, i didn't even know where to find. them so yeah, it helps. >> that's incredible. we should also note that it wasn't just -- we mostly talk about chinese men during world war ii, but samantha, there were a chinese women that served in the military. is that correct? >> yeah. we were able to identify 61 chinese american women who served in world war ii. and we actually have a graphic that we can share with you that provides statistics of their service. if it comes up, that would be great. and if it doesn't, there it is. so it's a little bit hard to read. but out of nope, that's not at. that's not it. that's it. yes,
7:18 pm
women veterans. so you can see from this graphic that they served from almost everywhere in the united states. although 22 of the 61 more undefined. the highest ranking was a first lieutenant. that was a single one. their citizenships were a little bit undefined. but we do know that most of them served in the women's army air corps. so it's the women's army corps. 47 of them served there. four of them were in the regular army. we have a couple of one offs in the air corps. in the air force. and the waves, the coast guard's were undefined.
7:19 pm
>> california was the highest number in terms of state of residents. and you can clearly see this in the infographic. and this is readily a billable to anybody who asks for these statistical data. thank you. thank you for putting it up. >> you mentioned that the chinese american women's are predominantly and the woman's air corps. -- >> no. women's army corps. excuse me. >> only two women served in the air corps. that was he's old hazel ying lee, and maggie zhi. >> which branch was the most popular for chinese americans as a whole? >> army. hands down it was the army. we had 16,000-plus served in the u.s. army. >> that's a phenomenal --
7:20 pm
>> we have the statistics readily available as well. >> eventually is it your hope that the information in the book will be available digitally? >> that is our goal. we are now working to have this resource expand and be online. our intention is to work with several universities across the country. we don't want to keep this in one single universities repository. we'd like one in the east coast. one in the west coast. one in central u.s.. northern and one central u.s. southern. we are still working out all of those relationships. it is our intention that by the year 2023, 2024, this will be a online resource where that will be curated. that will allow more people to provide their
7:21 pm
information, make a query, be able to search for their loved ones or search for statistical data. this isn't just for scholars. it's not just for educators. it's for everyone. so hopefully all of the state of will become creative commons by 2024. >> that's fantastic. how many veterans do estimate or still with us? >> when we started the project there were about 500. right now we are under 50. it is really sad because the chinese roadwork to, chinese american world war ii veterans recognition, congressional gold medal act passed on december 20th of 2018. and the coin still hasn't been invented. we are losing chinese american veterans every day. i mean, just last month alone we lost three that i know of. it
7:22 pm
usually comes to me much later. it is much after the fact. >> the same with all veterans. but especially a smaller group like the chinese americans. >> the attrition rate is pretty accurate. that comes from the chinese world war ii veterans and general. so when you break it down to the chinese americans, we really don't have many left at all. it is very sad. this bill was very important to the families and to myself because i am the daughter of former world war ii veterans. both my grandparents served. my father served and my great uncle served. and i knew of this growing up but it didn't become the impetus or my passion to make this happen. it just is a byproduct of. >> and hopefully your efforts will inspire others to
7:23 pm
rediscover their families passed. to that end. >> i hope. so i hope so. this has been a incredibly rewarding project. it is my intention to change the line in history bucks. you know? if we get a sentence fragment. chinese americans served alongside everybody else. or you know, when you start mentioning the ethnic groups that are being recognized, like the -- the navajo code talkers. i want the rolled war to american vets to be recognized because they talk about the filipino scouts. they talk about the 100th battalion of the 442. they don't talk about the chinese americans. yet we were the largest number of minority to serve. 822,000 2020 and counting. that is a huge number. >> other than african americans of course. >> yes.
7:24 pm
>> to add to that, elaine, i want to ask is there anything that you have learned about your father service because of your involvement with this project that maybe encourage you to start digging into his past. did you discover things you didn't know? >> i think that with my siblings and myself we have found that there is a lot of commonality, especially for mississippi, the folks who served their, that we share an awful lot in common, and that underlying current that runs through all of them is the pride that they have and the responsibility that they felt in being able to serve in the military. in many cases, it has transferred over to the children, the heirs, and it has definitely lit a fire under me in terms of finding the rest of the family tree, and maybe compiling different documents
7:25 pm
that we have, or just personal things that we have and sharing it with the family. and definitely, we want to make sure that our children and our grand children will be able to look at these collections with a lot of pride and with understanding that this is part of the family, and who we are. >> that is absolutely wonderful. it's so great to hear as well. i think one of my big takeaways from just speaking with you all and reading about chinese americans is that their story is distinct, and yet it is part of the american story that they did a lot of the same -- they had experienced a lot of the same things during world war ii that other veterans did with coming back and leaving maybe their ethnic enclaves in china town
7:26 pm
or mississippi, and spreading out all over the country and achieving so many great things. them and their children. whether it was working with nasa or other you know development other major companies and things like that. was there anything else that you wanted to add samantha about your research or the communities that you studied? >> what is really interesting, and frank just pointed out something that we didn't talk about the chinese employee. okay. so that is a really interesting anecdote to a research. we were going, why are there so many chinese americans designated from the state of idaho? when we were advocating for the congressional gold medal act be kept popping into the representative offices of the senators, and the congress persons to say hi, you need to
7:27 pm
support this bill. we have x amount of chinese americans from idaho. and they are like, what? you have how many chinese people from idaho? and we showed them -- and they were like that is not possible. so we dug in a little bit more. and with the help of frank and some other historians involved in the project we realized that it was a very simple reason why there aren't that many chinese people in idaho designated from the state of idaho. it is because oh hot -- hawaii was not a state yet. hawaii didn't become estate until 1959. yet there were so many chinese americans or chinese who were not yet citizens, who hail from the great state of hawaii. where do you put them? what's letter follows h? i and the
7:28 pm
first i state was idaho. so we have -- from idaho but the relief from hawaii. that was a interesting anecdote. we have some really interesting data to share. this is a data driven buck. it isn't something that we pulled out of our hat. we don't make up these numbers. this is hard core research. we are very proud of some of the stories that we were able to uncover and discover. >> that's fantastic. those experiences give color and explanations for a lot of the difficulties of doing this kind of research and the problems that you have to solve. really getting at the truth of the numbers. you can't always believe with you read off of the bat. >> that's true. we actually had a team of researchers in the
7:29 pm
state of hawaii. we went to the punchbowl cemetery and we took photographs of all of the headstones of the servicemen and women from that state, who were buried there, which is a national cemetery. we take that data and entered it into a giant spreadsheet, and in a cross reference with all of our primary sources, secondary source data. it was phenomenal. it was truly mind-blowing the number of chinese who served in world war ii from the state of hawaii. what else did you want to share frank? frank knows every name. he reviewed all of our research. he kept us honest. he wouldn't let us -- he wasn't very generous at times. >> it was like i need to explain that right. >> all of the quote born in china --
7:30 pm
>> oh yes. we had to remove a lot of those. we had so many russians who were born in china and we were like they can't be chinese. and they weren't, because they were designated white. we had some really crazy names that we had to just removed from the roster, because at one point in time we had over 30,000 plus names in our data. and we were like that is not possible. you've been based on the census where -- which became a principal research point there was no way that we had 33,000 chinese americans who served. there was just no way. >> that is really fascinating as well. so many claim that they were from china. i wonder
7:31 pm
why that was. by the russians were born in china. maybe >> that is really fascinating democrats -- diplomats or there was a advantage to claiming they were from china. too. so many claim that they were from china. i wonder why that was. by the russians were born in china. maybe >> they fled the communist revolution in 1917. they were the white russians. >> not the cocktail. they were diplomats or there was a advantage to claiming >> yes. they fled into they were from china. >> they fled the communist especially manchuria. >> he and tibet. that is where we got the tibetan nativity revolution in 1917-18. essentially they were definition, which was a lot of fun. we had to scroll through that line by line, how they the czarists, what were known as the white russians. >> not the cocktail. were designated and whether or >> yes. they fled into especially manchuria. >> he and tibet. that is where not they were really chinese or were they another ethnic group. and i know that this book is we got the tibetan and sinkiang definition, which was a lot of fun. we had to scroll through
7:32 pm
that line by line, how they were designated and whether or about chinese americans, but we not they were really chinese or were they another ethnic group. did find a lot of other nations and i know that this book is about chinese americans, but we asian ethnicities in our research that were categorized did find a lot of other asian ethnicities in our research that were categorized as chinese, but were not chinese. and they were clearly not chinese. and we couldn't remove them from the roster. it's under 150. we couldn't remove them from the rosters because according to the u.s. military they were chinese. so that was our default. if the u. s. military recognize them as a chinese person than we have to accept them as a chinese person. >> very interesting.
7:33 pm
>> with the exception of the russians. >> i want to thank you all so much for this work in this amazing product that you produced. i think for his future historians will be thanking you in perpetuity about this. thank you for your time tonight and sharing about your research. with that i think we are out of time. i want to turn it over to my colleague, abby. >> thank you tyler. thank you to our wonderful panel this evening for speaking with us about chinese american world war ii veterans. i also want to thank you those of you joining us from your homes. if enjoyed this program please check at our website on the national world war ii museum for upcoming programs. you can check that out at www.nationalww2museum.org. thank you all so much and have a lovely evening.
7:34 pm
[inaudible] . who died during the war. it will become part of the existing korean war memorial the kid on the national wall in washington, d.c..

93 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on