Asian American Town Official Lee Wong Reveals Scarring From Military Service to Prove That He's a Patriot
Lee Wong, who is the chair of the board of trustees in West Chester Township, a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio, said he needed to make his voice heard amid the mounting violence against Asian Americans in the U.S.
Ohio veteran and chair of West Chester’s board of trustees Lee Wong is sick and tired of the rise in anti-Asian American incidents around the United States. That’s why during the latest board meeting for West Chester Township, a suburb of Cincinnati, 69-year-old Wong removed his shirt and tie, and bared the scares on his chest to prove that he, like other Asian Americans, is just as much as a patriot as anyone else.
"People question my patriotism, that I don't look American enough, they can't get over this face,” Wong declared at the recorded meeting last week. “This is sustained from my service in the U.S. military. Is this patriot enough?”
That’s when Wong showed the extensive scarring on his chest he sustained during 20 years of active duty in the U.S. Military.
“I’m not afraid,” he said. “I don’t have to live in fear, intimidation or insults.”
Wong explained that he came to the U.S. when he was 18 years old, and just a few years after that, he was attacked.
“In Chicago, I got beat up,” Wong said. “He went to court and never got punished.”
He joined the military soon after, and retired after 20 years of active duty. “When I came out of the Army, I said, 'I'm going to make it a better community, wherever I live,'" Wong said.
Wong said he decided to take a stand after hearing of hateful incidents against Asian Americans around the country, which came to a head when six Asian women were murdered in the Atlanta spa shooting earlier this month.
But the deadly incident alone does not nearly account for the mounting violence against Asian Americans since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
Nonprofit Stop AAPI Hate has been tracking incidents of hate against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and recorded more than 3,000 incidents of “verbal harassment, discriminatory treatment, threats, intimidation, and some physical assaults” around the country between March and December of 2020, the organization’s co-founder Cynthia Choi told Inside Edition Digital.
“We're seeing that vulnerable members of our community, including women and the elderly, are being attacked while living under this pandemic while they're at the grocery stores, when they're out on public streets, walking around their neighborhood, the few places that we are allowed to go during this pandemic,” Choi explained, “And it doesn't seem to be stopping.”
In his impassioned speech, Wong said many people being targeted are just like him. "They are hard-working, American, hard-working people," he said. "Law-abiding citizens, some even serve in the U.S. armed forces of America."
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