By Terence Way & Su Phelps; Photos by Terence Way

On the evening of June 19, an exciting lion dance was being performed in front of dignitaries and local Asian community leaders. The dignitaries were Dr. Hsin-hsing Wu, the Minister of OCAC (Overseas Community Affairs Council) of Taiwan, Republic of China Joseph C.L. Ma, the Director General of TECO (Taipei Economic and Cultural Office) in San Francisco, Roy S.R. Yen, the Director of the Culture Center of TECO in San Francisco, Director General Shu-Hwa Wong of Department of Business Affairs of OCAC of Taiwan. Dr. Hsin-hsing, who was coming to Las Vegas for the first time, as a direct result of President Donald J. Trump signing the Taiwan Travel Act into law earlier this year.

Special invitees were Dr. Richard B. Small, a retired neurosurgeon and a Purple Heart decorated Vietnam veteran living in Las Vegas, who also spent several years in Asia, and yours truly. We were both guests of the Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce of Greater Las Vegas. Dr. Small lived in Asia several times and is also great supporter of local veteran causes. He was celebrated as a guest of honor at this event.

The significance of this gathering was important, especially for us veterans is because although Taiwan is a small island in Far East Asia, it also has been (for generations) our greatest ally. It is one of the shiniest examples of why our nation’s greatest heroes have served and sacrificed in the eastern hemisphere. Taiwan’s government, also called the Republic of China, was the first democracy in Asia. It was founded by a US citizen, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, back before World War I. He realized early on how important overseas Chinese were to the fledgling Chinese government and felt compelled to support them, especially since most of the money was funded by these Overseas Chinese. (The OCAC is also a special department created by the Dr. Sun Yat-sen.)

Now, in turn, Taiwan and OCAC is helping to promote Overseas Chinese patriotism for the USA and seeking opportunities for Taiwanese to help invest and promote US businesses, including here in Las Vegas.

During the banquet, Minister Wu spoke of the importance of today’s Overseas Chinese. globally; wherever the sun shines, there will be overseas Chinese. They contribute to the local community through their hard work and they represent the strength and greatness of Taiwan. Minister Wu concluded by saying that he appreciates Overseas Chinese support of Taiwan and hopes the OCAC can (in turn) serve Overseas Chinese any way they can.

The OCAC also helps promote the Chinese language through TECO’s Education Division and Taiwan’s Ministry of Education. I was able to find resources through their websites to learn Mandarin and Traditional Chinese, many of which were free. They also provide a low cost TOCFL (Test of Chinese as a Foreign Language) to help certify Mandarin and Chinese proficiency for non-native speakers- for education, and job-certification.

A highlight, and a great way to close the evening, was when Minister Wu spoke warmly with Dr. Small and said, “You are MY HERO!” for his time serving and earning his Purple Heart while fighting for democracies in the Far East.