On U.S. Veteran’s Day, we should also remember Asian American veterans, whose long history of valor may not be known to many. When I first saw this picture in the San Jose Mercury News, I wondered, “who is this kid (Charles Lee) is portraying and what did he do?” He is portraying Lou Sing Kee (official registered as Sing Kee), a World War I awardee of the Distinguished Service Cross.
Lou Sing Kee was born in Saratoga, California and enlisted in the U.S. Army during World War I. The message center that he was running was shelled and gassed by the Germans, but even as his companions were wounded and he was seriously gassed, he refused to be evacuated and ran the message center single-handedly for 24 hours. He received the Distinguished Service Cross, and received a hero’s welcome when he returned home. Some believe that he is the first Chinese American to be officially cited for bravery.
For the past few years, Saratoga has had a local Asian American portray Lou Sing Kee for its Heritage Day celebration. I really like this idea. Not just because they are making a piece of relatively unknown Asian American history come alive, but that they are portaying his life not just a piece of Asian American history, but an integrated part of American history and American heritage.
(photo credit: Jim Gensheimer/Mercury News Staff)