One official in West Chester Township, Ohio, took a unique step in combating anti-Asian sentiment, stripping off his shirt during a town hall meeting to show scars from war.
The official made his daring gambit as anti-Asian violence continues to rise in the United States, including a mass shooting in Atlanta that took eight lives, six of whom were Asian women.
Investigators are still looking into whether the suspect in that case will be charged with a hate crime.
Lee Wong, 69, a Board of Trustees member of the town, was in a meeting on Tuesday night when he decided to display the effects fighting for the U.S. Army had on his body.
Lee Wong, 69, is an Army veteran who showed off his scars during a recent town hall meeting
The West Chester Township Board of Trustees member was at a meeting on Tuesday night
During the meeting, he decided to lift his shirt, showing scars from his days in the military
‘I’m 69 years old and I’m gonna show you what patriotism – the questions about patriotism – looks like,’ Wong says during the meeting as he begins to unbutton his shirt.
‘Here is my proof,’ Wong says as he lifts up his undershirt, exposing a rash of scars across his chest.
‘This is sustained through my service in the U.S. military. Now is this patriot enough?’
As he put down his shirt, Wong then went on to talk about the strange looks he’d been getting and how his patriotism had been questioned, before going on to reference the Constitution and his desire for all to be treated equally.
According to Fox News, Wong is a 20-year veteran who immigrated to the United States 51 years ago.
It’s not clear which war Wong sustained his injuries in, though the Journal-News previously reported that Wong served from 1975 to 1995.
The Republican has also campaigned in a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat, suggesting he’s a supporter of Donald Trump, who famously avoided being drafted into the military.
Wong told the Cincinnati Enquirer that he hadn’t planned on the viral moment beforehand.
Wong served in the military from 1975 to 1995, although it’s not clear where he got his scars
‘The timing was right in light of what’s happening in this country,’ Wong stated.
‘In that moment, I don’t know what came over me. I just knew I had to say something.’
The Board of Trustees member claims he has received positive feedback for the town hall meeting moment.
Wong also says he was attacked for being Asian back in the 1960s
‘People thank me for my service,’ Wong said. ‘People are glad I spoke. West Chester is a diverse community and we don’t need that kind of rhetoric.’
‘I deliberately went to the army to learn about Americanism and democracy,’ Wong said about his service.
Wong has seen a rise in anti-Asian sentiment in his neighborhood recently, including a boy who pulled back his eyelids when looking at Wong at the grocery store.
FOX19 reports that Wong was also beat up for being Asian back in the 1960s, putting him in a hospital.
‘When someone comes up and says that to me, it’s like a stab in my heart,’ Wong said about being told he didn’t look American enough.
‘I am always considered an outsider, that’s not right and they are just getting bolder and bolder,’ Wong said to the Journal-News about those with hatred.
‘I’m just afraid it might come down to what’s happening in Atlanta, sooner or later if we don’t speak up.’
Nevertheless, Wong has some hope about the society he wants to see once again.
‘Love one another, your neighbor, be kind, be gentle, treat other people with dignity and respect,’ he said to FOX19.