WASHINGTON, July 3 (Yonhap) -- Dozens of U.S. lawmakers in the House and the Senate have sent letters urging President Barack Obama to award this year's Presidential Medal of Freedom to late Korean-American war hero Kim Young-oak.
According to the Council of Korean Americans (CKA), 33 House lawmakers, including Reps. Ed Royce (R-CA), Mike Honda (D-CA) and Charles Rangel (D-NY), sent a joint letter to Obama on June 20, while Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) sent a similar letter on June 10.
"As members of Congress who represent a diverse America, we believe that Colonel Kim deserves this high honor for his exemplary patriotism and heroism in the United States military and his leadership in underserved communities," the House lawmakers said in the letter.
"He fought for peace abroad, and he fought for peace at home, dedicating his life to public service. He exemplifies the character that the Presidential Medal of Freedom seeks to uplift," they said.
Kim, a son of a Korean independence fighter, was the first minority officer to command an Army combat battalion in American history. He served during World War II and the Korean War. After retirement from the military, Kim dedicated the remainder of his life to the socially weak before his death in 2005.
If selected, Kim will be the first Korean-American to receive the honor.
The two senators also said in the letter that Kim's service "embodies the ideals" of the medal.
"We urge you to recognize not only his enduring legacy as a military hero and public servant, but also the inspiration he continues to be for future generations of Americans," they said in the letter to Obama. "We hope you will give his nomination serious consideration."
CKA Chairman Sam Yoon praised the lawmakers for their support for Kim's nomination.
"Colonel Kim's lasting contributions as a civic leader and his unwavering belief in serving this country -- not just as a Korean-American but as an American -- is particularly timely at a time of growing xenophobia toward minorities and immigrants in this country," Yoon said in a statement.
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