A local official of Asian descent in West Chester Township, Ohio, is being praised for removing his shirt during a town hall meeting this week to show off his battle scars.
“Is this patriot enough?” Lee Wong, a member of the Board of Trustees, a Republican who has proudly campaigned in a “Make America Great Again” hat, asked while displaying a long war scar at the meeting Tuesday night.
Wong, 69, said people have told him that he doesn’t seem American or patriotic enough.
“I’m going to show you what patriotism is like, the questions about patriotism,” said the 20-year veteran of the US military who immigrated to the United States 51 years ago, before unbuttoning his shirt.
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The video of the moment went viral on social media as Americans continue to speak out against anti-Asian hatred amid a surge in attacks on Asians, including a suspect in Atlanta who is accused of killing eight people earlier this year. month, six of whom were Asian women. The suspect claimed he was not racially motivated.
Wong told the Cincinnati Enquirer the timing was unplanned.
“At the time, I don’t know what happened to me. I just knew I had to say something,” he said.
“I don’t know what happened to me. I just knew I had to say something.”
At the meeting, he spoke about coming to the United States when he was 18 years old and described how he was once beaten in Chicago for being Asian. He said his attackers were never punished.
“I deliberately went to the Army to learn about Americanism and democracy,” he told the newspaper.
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“People thank me for my service. People are glad they spoke,” Wong told the Enquirer. “West Chester is a diverse community and we don’t need that kind of rhetoric.”