Washington, D.C. (May 18, 2016) — Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) held a press conference Tuesday calling on President Barack Obama to nominate the late Colonel Young Oak Kim for the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Earlier this year, CAPAC sent a letter to the White House supporting the nomination. CAPAC Members released the following statements:
Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC Chair: “As Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I am working closely with the Korean American community to support the nomination of Colonel Young Oak Kim for the 2016 Presidential Medal of Freedom. Colonel Kim bravely served our country during World War II and the Korean War, becoming the first minority officer in U.S. history to command an Army battalion on the battlefield. After retiring from military service, he returned to Southern California and worked to empower Asian American communities both in Los Angeles and across the country. Throughout his lifetime of service, he truly embodied what it means to advance the common good. I urge President Obama to honor Young Oak Kim’s distinguished service to our nation by posthumously awarding him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.”
Congressman Mike Honda (CA-17), CAPAC Chair Emeritus: “In the Colonel’s words, ‘There is no Japanese or Korean here; We are all Americans.’ In his heart, he was 100 percent American and 100 percent Korean. This spirit made him a hero to the Asian American community, through his public service efforts and humanitarian work. Colonel Kim has left an indelible mark in our nation’s history, we owe him tremendously. After all, heroes must not, and cannot, ever be forgotten.”
Congressman Mark Takano (CA-41), CAPAC Whip: “I would not be a Member of Congress if it wasn’t for Young Oak Kim. His contributions to this country and to the Asian American community are immeasurable. It is past time for us to award him the Presidential Medal of Freedom and I am proud to stand with my colleagues today to honor his service.”
Congressman Charles B. Rangel (NY-13): “Colonel Young Oak Kim was a courageous veteran of World War II and the Korean War and an unsung American hero. As a Korean War veteran, I am proud to honor Colonel Kim’s patriotism and heroism to serve our country during a time when he faced discrimination at home. He dedicated his life to public service and exemplifies the character that the Presidential Medal of Freedom seeks to uplift. I urge President Obama to give recognition where it is truly due to ensure that Colonel Kim’s legacy is cemented in our nation’s history. The achievements of Colonel Young Oak Kim are a tremendous source of pride, not only for the Korean American and veterans community, but also are an inspiration to all Americans. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is not simply awarding the recipient or honoree, it is the United States of America trying to highlight how beautiful this country is and how Americans come in so many different colors and from so many different backgrounds.”
Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43): “Colonel Young Kim Oak left a legacy in my District, greater Los Angeles, and the world for serving not only as an American war hero, but as a civic leader and humanitarian as well. He did not let rejection and discrimination define him. Instead, he triumphed from his challenges and advocated for the youth, elderly, and poor, regardless of their ethnic background. I am pleased to join my colleagues in urging the President to award the late Colonel Young Kim Oak with the Medal of Freedom for serving abroad when our nation needed him, and for serving at home to our underserved communities.”
The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and Members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Currently chaired by Congresswoman Judy Chu, CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.