Boston, Nov. 5, 2015, — The annual meeting and dinner banquet of Chinese History Society of New England (CHSNE) will be held Friday (Nov. 6) evening at Empire Garden restaurant in Chinatown. The theme of this year’s annual meeting is Impact of 1965: Immigration Law and Chinese in Boston. Well-known Chinatown leader and WWII veteran Arthur Wong, 91, and Gary Libby of Maine will be honored at this event.
Arthur Wong shows the Bronze Star medal at his apartment in Chinatown(file photo).
The early Chinese immigrant pioneers were typically sojourners — workers looking for a piece of the Gold Mountain to take back to China to help their families. Many faced conditions of racism, exclusion, and economic exploitation, even as they helped transform America by building railroads, establishing fisheries, harvesting crops, and producing factories. Our place today in this society rests, in part, on their legacy. It is in memory of their unrecognized struggles and profound contributions that CHSNE offers the Sojourner Award.
Recipients of 2015 CHSNE Sojourner Award
Arthur Wong, for his commitment to country and community
Arthur Wong immigrated to Boston in 1938, and was among the first groups of American soldiers who landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944. He was later seriously injured in November 1944 when the Allied Forces advanced into Germany. Sixty-four years after he returned from WWII battlegrounds, Mr. Wong finally received nine U.S. military medals, including Purple Heart and Bronze Star, with the help from Senator John Kerry in 2009. The video below is part 1 of TV documentary The Late Arriving Medals by Jiangmen TV in China. A number of Chinese American WWII veterans were interviewed this past summer for this documentary.
After the war, Mr. Wong has served in several leadership positions at many non-profit organizations in Boston Chinatown and nationwide, including the CCBA and Chinese Merchants Association. Mr. Wong, 91, lives in Boston Chinatown. He spends the day listening to the music, reading newspapers and watching TV. He still pays close attention to news from China and from his hometown Taishan, Guangdong province.
Gary Libby helped create the Maine Chinese Archive, which is located at the Maine Historical Society as part of its collection. Beginning in 2001 he began doing research on the history of Maine’s Chinese community and learned that Chinese people have lived in Maine since 1857.You can find photographs of early Chinese residents of Maine and some online exhibits from the Maine Chinese Archive by going to the Maine Memory Network (mainememory.net) and using the search word “Chinese.”
Since 2001 Mr. Libby has worked to buy, collect, and donate Chinese restaurant menus, hand laundry price lists, photographs, and other artifacts. He has also contributed to the collection of about 35 oral history interviews of Chinese who lived in Maine from the 1930s to the present day.