On Sunday, May 19, 2013 the City of Alameda hosted the Alameda Asian Pacific Islander (API) Cultural Festival - a festive day to honor our API heritage and especially those military veterans who have served our Country. Sponsored by the non-profit organization, Chinese American Heroes (CAH), and managed by the Festival event working committee volunteers, including Mr. Glen Wong, Ms. Karen Fong, Mr. Michael Robles-Wong, Mr. Rahn Sibley, Ms. Julie Yim, and Mr. Roger S. Dong. Councilman Stewart Chen, former County Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker and Assembly member Dr. Jennifer Ong provided important executive consultation. The all-afternoon event featured several emcees, including KTVU weekend meteorologist Rosemary Orozco, and recently promoted Army Brigadier General Garrett Yee.
California State Supreme Court Associate Justice Ming Chin gave the keynote address. Justice Chin related his own feelings about war, and his noteworthy military experience in the Vietnam War, and he also recognized CAH hero Maya Lin whose Vietnam Memorial monument is a national treasure.
Lin’s selection was controversial for a time, as some people thought that such an important monument, should have not have been awarded to a Chinese American. Fortunately, the contest was conducted anonymously, so the best design won fair and square.
Justice Chin received the Bronze Medal for his service in the Vietnam War.
There is now a Maya Lin School for young people in the city of Alameda. It is a special school which provides a safe environment for fostering smart critical thinking for kids who love art.
The Festival was kicked off by the rousing Lincoln Middle School Marching Band and then the sharp Encinal High School JROTC Color Guard presented the Colors.
Local political leaders Assembly member Rob Bonta, Chair of this event, State Senator Loni Hancock, and Alameda City Council Members Lena Tam, Tony Daysog and Stewart Chen joined in the event and thanked all the veterans for their loyal military duty serving our country during times of war and peace.
The festive and notable celebration was held at Alameda’s South Shore Center, and featured Lion Dancers from the Hyong Viet Community Center, Sukyung Choi Korean Dancers, Filipino Martial Arts by the Dragon Sticks, Halau Makana, Gercenter Youth Center, China’s Spirit-Guzheng Ensemble, Rita Sahai and Group, Intensity Martial Arts, Okinawan Folk Dance, Bay Farm Ukelele, and Patty Chu’s Chinese Folk Dance Troup.
Special attention was given to five veterans who have an Alameda connection and have served with exceptional distinction, including: World War II Army First Sergeant Eustaquio Oliver Valerio; Vietnam War Navy Master Chief Felix Marquez; World War II, Korean and Vietnam War Air Force Colonel Richard F. Hum; World War II Army 442nd Regimental Combat Team Technician 5th Class Shiro “Jug” Takeshita; and World War II Transport Pilot Captain Moon Chin.
Each of the heroic veterans or his representatives was awarded a Certificate of Honor from Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senator Barbara Boxer, Congressman Michael Honda, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, State Senator Loni Hancock, Assemblyman Rob Bonta, and the Alameda City Council. Air Force Captain Brian Hum received awards on behalf of his grandfather, Colonel Richard F. Hum, and Cookie Takeshita received the awards on behalf of her husband, Shiro “Jug” Takeshita. Daughter Monica Valerio and seven of her siblings received the awards on behalf of First Sergeant Eustaquio Oliver Valerio.
During the program, Chinese American Heroes Chairman Roger S. Dong surprised General Garrett Yee and State Supreme Court Associate Justice Ming W. Chin by publicly announcing that the two gentlemen were the latest heroes to be added to the CAH national website www.chineseamericanheroes.org. Dong noted that among the 4.5 million Americans of Chinese descent in our country, there are now just 200 individuals who have made sufficient significant contributions to be designated heroes in this national organization. Both were awarded with framed CAH heroes’ certificates.
This is likely the first time any City has honored all our API military veterans and we salute the City of Alameda for hosting and honoring our API military veterans. The Alameda Free Library has created a special collection on its website that consists of a large index of literature, websites, documentary films, exhibits, and oral histories of many of our Asian and Pacific Islander communities in the United States. These public and private collections are located across the country and are referenced with the cooperation of many historical societies, universities and private organizations.
This event was supported by corporate sponsors Coca Cola, Comcast, BART, Kohls, Old Navy, Safeway, Alameda Hospital, Private Management Services, Park Street Bakery, Chinese American Heroes, and American Legion Cathay Post #384. Additional private sponsors included Councilman Stewart Chen, Ms. Karen Fong, Mr. Glen Wong, Mr. Rahn Sibley and Mr. Roger S. Dong.