Recently, the State of California recognized the contributions of the Chinese railroad workers in helping to build the transcontinental railroad by declaring May 10th, ‘Chinese Railroad Workers Memorial Day.’
Now there is an effort in Congress to honor the Chinese workers on a stamp:
“Federal lawmakers from New York and California reintroduced legislation Thursday calling on the Postal Service to issue a stamp that honors the Chinese workers who built the transcontinental railroad nearly 150 years ago.
U.S. Reps. Grace Meng (D-NY) and Ed Royce (R-CA) brought their resolution to the House the same week a golden spike was driven in 1869 in Promontory, Utah, which marked the completion of the rail link that joined the east and west coasts.”
There have been past petitions for Asian American themed stamps, such as ones for Bruce Lee (which I don’t recall whether or not they got released) and for Chinese New Year, which have been released – at least this past year. I’m all for a stamp to honor any immigrant group for their contributions to the United States, and I don’t think honoring the Chinese railroad workers should be any different.
Apparently Congresswoman Meng has sponsored similar resolutions twice before, but they hadn’t been brought up for a vote. Hopefully this time around, at least a vote will be taken. In Meng’s press release, she states that the 12,000 Chinese railroad workers comprised more than 80 percent of the workforce and that nearly 1,200 of the workers died from the harsh winters and brutal working conditions.
First of all, I didn’t realize that the Chinese railroad workers comprised of 80 percent of the workforce! I think that was for the West-to-East portion of the transcontinental railroad built by the Central Pacific Railroad. But I am shocked to learn that 1,200 died – that 10% of the Chinese workforce. That’s pretty horrific and a fact that seems to have been a bit de-emphasized in the history books (then again, I’m sure many are unaware that up to 400,000 people died building the Great Wall of China)