An Asian-American ex-soldier who lifted his shirt and showed his scars to prove his “patriotism” in a town hall meeting has gone viral on social media.
Lee Wong, 69, has been applauded for making a powerful statement about discrimination.
But some said Asian-Americans should not feel compelled to prove their loyalty to their country.
Anti-Asian racism is rising in the US. Last week six Asian women were killed in Atlanta alongside two other victims.
Thousands of Asian-Americans have reported violent attacks or hate crimes in recent months, often linked to rhetoric that blames Asian people for the spread of Covid-19.
Mr Wong, an elected official in West Chester, Ohio, was speaking in a meeting about the racism he has faced as an Asian person.
Addressing the meeting, he began to unbutton his shirt saying: “I’m going to show you what questions about patriotism look like.”
He stood up and lifted his vest, showing large scars on his chest to colleagues in the hall.
“Here is my proof. This is sustained in my service in the US military. Is this patriot enough?” he asked.
He then explained that people have questioned his loyalty to the US and suggested he did not “look American enough”.
Mr Wong moved to the US to study in the late 1960s, he told Fox News. He said he had been physically attacked as well as verbally abused.
He served 20 years in the US army and is now chair of the West Chester board of trustees after first being elected in 2005.
He called on colleagues in the town hall meeting to remember that the US constitution says all people are equal.
A video of Mr Wong’s statement has spread widely on social media, with many people using the hashtag #StopAsianHate.
“It’s powerful and heart-breaking that someone like him, so experienced and committed, feels he has to bear his soul to get the point made,” wrote one Twitter user.
“This took my breath away. This man standing up to show his scars that he got in wars fighting for the USA,” added another.
Comedian and writer Jenny Yang applauded Mr Wong for making the strong statement but added: “No one should prove how “American” they are to deserve dignity and respect.”
And veteran Mansoor Shams, who tweets with the account MuslimMarine wrote: “No American should have to prove their patriotism to anyone.”