Back on Veterans Day I posted an article about how Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have been heroes for generations in the U.S. military, and ended the article with a note about retired Four-Star Gen. Eric Shinseki, former Army Chief of Staff and the highest-ranked AAPI in the military.
Today, NBC released an excerpt of an interview with Barack Obama to air on tomorrow’s “Meet the Press” program, during which the President-elect tells Tom Brokaw that he’s naming Shinseki as Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
The timing of the announcement isn’t coincidental.
Tomorrow is Sunday, December 7, the 67th anniversary of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. Shinseki is Japanese American, and he was born in Hawai’i on November, 28, 1942. He and Barack Obama both have childhood roots in Hawai’i. Shinseki is a Vietnam veteran, who lost part of a foot from stepping on a land mine. He was named Army Chief of Staff in 1999 and retired in 2003… many thought, under duress from the Bush administration for his views which contradicted the official one on the war against Iraq.
On February 25, 2003, a few months before the end of his appointment and the start of his retirement, Shinseki testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee that he thought an occupying force of several hundred thousand men would be needed to stabilize postwar Iraq. His analysis was bluntly dismissed by the Bush administration. Here’s part of a transcript of the proceedings: