'The timing was right': West Chester trustee Lee Wong shares why he chose to bare his scars

During a trustee meeting in West Chester, trustee Lee Wong lifted up his shirt and bared his chest, saying he was sick of Anti-Asian rhetoric that he was seeing in America.

The 69-year-old trustee has been in America for 51 years now. And in that time, he, "put up with a lot of s***  in silence, excuse the language, too afraid to speak out, fearing more abuse and discrimination," Wong said during the Tuesday meeting.

None of it was planned, Wong told the Enquirer on Thursday, while wearing a U.S. Army shirt with his name on it.

"The timing was right in light of what's happening in this country," Wong said.

Unprompted and unplanned, Wong lifted his shirt and showed a series of scars across his chest, announcing he won't tolerate discrimination or racism. Even his fellow trustee members were unaware that he was going to speak.

He said it was more than the shootings that took place in Atlanta killing eight people, including six Asian women. The past year has been particularly difficult for Asian Americans due to things like the coronavirus being called the "China Virus" as well as the election season.

Wong says he's been approached by people who say he doesn't look patriotic enough. That he doesn't look American enough. People have shouted at him while he's out running.

In a recent grocery trip, "A father with a kid and little boy would go like this –” Wong pulled his eyelids back towards his temples “– to me. He was making fun of my features."

Wong has served 20 years in the military

Wong served 20 years in the U.S. military and does not take kindly to being called unpatriotic, which is why he decided to lift his shirt and show the scars he received during his service.

"In that moment, I don't know what came over me. I just knew I had to say something," Wong said. 

During the meeting, the trustee talked about immigrating to America as an 18-year-old and finishing high school during the comments section of the meeting. He spoke of a time in Chicago when he was beaten up because of his race, took the people to court, and they were never punished.

"I deliberately went to the army to learn about Americanism and democracy," Wong said on Thursday.

Wong said he's received positive responses

Wong is a Republican, though elections in the township of 61,000 are nonpartisan. The U.S. Army veteran has campaigned for office on a Segway, wearing a "Make America Great Again" cap. 

He says that all responses to his speech have been positive, even comments on Facebook which tend to skew negative.

"People thank me for my service. People are glad I spoke," Wong said. "West Chester is a diverse community and we don't need that kind of rhetoric." 

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