June 4, 2023

Vietnam Battle veteran and Monterey Park resident Thomas Yee needs future generations to know: freedom isn’t free.

“The U.S. requested us, as Americans, to battle. And we did it as a result of our president requested us to, for our nation,” mentioned Yee, 75, who fought with the ninth Infantry Division of the U.S. Armed Forces. “I need individuals to know why individuals served, and to study from the errors of battle. If we’re nonetheless at battle, we’re nonetheless having errors.”

Yee joined different veterans to share his experiences dwelling and combating by way of the Vietnam Battle at an oral historical past interview occasion, hosted by the Chinese language Household Historical past Group in partnership with the Library of Congress and the Chinese language American Museum, on Monday, Might 22, on the Alhambra Civic Heart Library.

Nineteen veterans, lots of them of Chinese language American descent, got here to share their tales, which can be collected as a part of the Library of Congress’ Veterans Historical past Undertaking.

The veterans sat down with volunteers to reply questions on digital camera about their private lives and navy service within the respective wars they served in — together with their reminiscences being drafted or enlisted, any specialised coaching assignments, private tales from the bottom, and the truth of what their lives had been like coming residence after the battle.

Even two World Battle II veterans — Calvin Lee and Robert Yup, each 99 years outdated — got here to share their experiences, supported by relations who wished to see their tales documented. They carried their Congressional Medals of Honor.


The interview-based mission was established by way of the Veterans’ Oral Historical past Undertaking Act in 2000, and by legislation collects and preserves veterans’ accounts for future generations and researchers to entry. The mission consists principally of audio interviews, but additionally collects video and first supply paperwork — letters, journal entries, pictures — from veterans way back to World Battle I and as current because the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The oral histories turn out to be a part of the everlasting collections of the Library of Congress.

Library of Congress Liaison Specialist Andrew Huber mentioned there are 115,000 accounts collected to this point, practically half from World Battle II veterans. Huber mentioned that the Library’s assortment of interviews, captured each by way of audio and video, have helped many youthful generations get to know their grandparents and older generations, individuals writing books or creating documentaries, archivists and historians.

“Even an adolescent who may be interested by becoming a member of the navy, who needs to know what it’s actually like from somebody who was there, these first-hand accounts and private tales are actually useful,” Huber mentioned.

Suellen Cheng, with the Chinese language Household Historical past Group, who’s the manager director emeritus of the Chinese language American Museum, mentioned that the majority veterans who share their tales don’t really feel like heroes, “in comparison with those that sacrificed their lives.”

“So it’s very shifting to see how they survived, however really feel indebted to those that gave their lives,” Cheng mentioned. “This mission talks about veterans’ experiences on and off the fight zone, how they tried to speak with their households again then, how they cope with trauma, how they regarded for jobs after… these are the tales and elements of the human expertise that must be shared.”

Marjorie Lee, an archivist with the UCLA Asian American Research Heart, mentioned that there’s “nothing extra empowering than listening to the voice of an precise veteran, with their number of experiences and numerous backgrounds… all of them have distinctive tales from their time in service to inform.”

“It doesn’t actually scratch the floor… however even only one individual tells their story, and it makes a distinction. If we don’t begin to inform their tales, then nobody will ever know,” Lee mentioned. “And we are able to study to understand how we’re capable of take pleasure in our freedoms, due to the sacrifices of our predecessors.”

On the occasion, Alhambra Mayor Adele Andrade-Stadler honored the veterans and introduced a commendation to the Chinese language Household Historical past Group, which fully funded the mission, and plans to proceed its work at extra oral historical past occasions.

All of the contributors acquired a replica of their oral histories to share. One other oral historical past occasion was held on the Santa Monica Public Library over the weekend, the place 21 veterans shared their tales.

“In the present day’s youth don’t actually perceive the freedoms they’ve due to the wrestle of veterans,” mentioned San Marino resident Joseph Wong, 91, who served within the Korean Battle. He got here to the occasion after his brother-in-law gave an interview. “So I hope they are going to pay attention to those tales, our tales, and study to provide of themselves to individuals, too.”