Young Asian Americans enlist in spite of cultural barriers.
Written by AUSTIN LAM, Staff Writer / Published December 20, 2013
Banners on Las Tunas Boulevard flutter in the wind, honoring soldiers and veterans who hail from the small town of Temple City. These banners stand as symbols of sacrifice, duty, honor, and country. But taking a closer look at them, one can’t help but observe the lack of Lee’s, Wong’s and Kim’s on the banners.
There is an evident disproportionality in the demographics of Asians in the military. Since the last decade, Temple City’s ethnically Asian population has grown abundantly, reaching a point of composing 56 percent of the town’s current demographics. However the amount of Asians who enlist in the military is wan in comparison.
Private First Class Alan Miao, a Combat Engineer in the U.S Army and Temple City High School graduate, com-ments on the initial struggle with revealing his decision to join with his friends and family, suggesting that a possible lack of representa-tion of Asians in the military is due to the lack of parental acceptance and under-standing.
“When I first told my parents that I wanted to join the military they immediately said no,” Miao said. “But when they finally understood what the military could do for me both financially and personally, they accepted my decision.”
Wesley Tsai, a Lance Corporal of the Marines and also a Temple City High School graduate, received a similar reaction from his parents and peers, attributing some of the unfavorable perceptions that many Asian Americans
harbor of the military to the influence of the media and other traditional misconceptions.
“My parents were concerned for my safety when I first told them I wanted to enlist,” said Tsai. “But when they started to overcome the stereotypes that come with the military, they became much more supportive.”
However, having been in the military, he now steps back and defeats these stereotypes. “Being Asian and be-ing in the military really isn’t a challenge to me,” he said. I think it’s actually easier for someone of an Asian upbringing to be in the military because we grew up with a sense of discipline.
“How one performs in the military isn’t decided by race; it’s decided by heart. How much heart you have defines who you are in the military – race is only an exterior look,” he added.
Both Tsai and Miao are very satisfied with their decision to enlist in military services, proud to have overcome the stereotypes that hinder Asian Americans in the military, but even prouder to be serving our country.