By Mark Lewack, FAPAC OPM Acting Chapter President
During Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, we celebrate the contributions of AAPIs to this country. May is also Military Appreciation Month. It is apt that during this Memorial Day, we commemorate the ultimate sacrifice that AAPIs have made on behalf of this country and their fellow countrymen and women.
AAPIs have served in the Armed Forces with distinction since the War of 1812. Some say, they have fought for America since 1763 when Filipino sailors and crewmen deserted Spanish ships and settled in Mexico and the Louisiana territory.
Among the most noteworthy of AAPI who gave their lives for our country was U.S. Army Brigadier General Vicente Lim, a Filipino-American officer and the first Filipino West Point graduate. He served under Generals Douglas MacArthur and Jonathan Wainwright in the Philippines during World War II. During the Battle of Bataan, Lim was the Commanding General of the 41st Infantry Division, Philippine Army (USAFFE). After the fall of the Philippines, he contributed to the Filipino resistance movement until his capture and subsequent execution. The Japanese guards killed between thousands of men during the death march and countless others who wound up in Japanese POW camps like General Lim. Lim was one of the most decorated Asian Americans who fought in WWII, earning among others the Legion of Merit and Purple Heart.
As you commemorate the ultimate sacrifice of American servicemen and women this Memorial Day, remember the sacrifices of AAPI who gave their lives for our country. Without their contributions, some of American’s successful battles would have turned out differently.