Sunday, May 30, 2010

Asian American Hero: Hazel Ying Lee

AAPI Heritage Month is coming to an end, so tonight the girls and I watched A Brief Flight, a documentary about Hazel Ying Lee and the WASPs.  In 1932, Lee was one of the first Chinese-American women to earn a pilot's license (Katherine Cheung is credited as the first).  When Japan invaded China, she went to China to volunteer with the Chinese Air Force, but was rejected because she was a woman.  She returned to the U.S., and in  1844 joined the WASPs.

It's not the world's greatest documentary, but it was an inspirational look at someone who defied the conventions of her time to do what she loved.  The girls thought it was interesting, and liked the fact that she "has a Chinese middle name just like us!"  They also liked the mention that Lee went to Chinese school, just like them.

Zoe says she's glad she watched it, but she would not recommend it to other kids because of the sad ending -- Hazel Lee was killed in a flying accident and 3 weeks later the family learns that her brother was killed in the war.  The saddest part, though, was that when their sister picked out a burial plot in Portland, Oregon, the cemetary refused to bury them because they were Chinese. They eventually allowed it after the family threatened to bring the War Department in on it, since they were refusing to bury true American heroes.

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