WASHINGTON — The 39th anniversary of the death of martial arts star Bruce Lee (1940-1973) was observed with a congressional resolution on July 18.
With the late actor’s daughter, Shannon Lee, present, a statement was made by Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose), immediate past chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.
The bipartisan resolution was signed by Reps. Honda, Judy Chu (D-El Monte), Hansen Clarke (D-Mich.), Eni Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Dan Lungren (R-Gold River), Laura Richardson (D-Long Beach), Gregorio Sablan (D-Northern Mariana Islands) and Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove). Chu is the current chair of CAPAC.
Honda’s statement follows:
“The 39th anniversary of Bruce’s death is this week, on July 20. Bruce had, and continues to have, an immeasurable impact on American and global popular culture through the important role he played in creating a bridge between cultures; championing values of self-respect, self-discipline and tolerance in our nation; and pioneering and cultivating the genres of martial arts, martial arts films, fitness, and philosophy in the United States and the world.
“Bruce was born on Nov. 27, 1940, in San Francisco … His family relocate to Hong Kong shortly thereafter, and he experienced first-hand the occupation of Hong Kong by the Japanese during World War II … and the subsequent hostility and war that shook the continent. It was during his time in Hong Kong that Bruce sought out martial arts as a means to gain self-confidence and discipline, as well as to overcome repeated instances of taunting racism and gang activity during his youth.
“In 1959, with only $100 to his name, Bruce boarded a steamship in the American Presidents Line and began his voyage back to San Francisco. Soon thereafter, with much dedication, Bruce threw himself into learning colloquial English in honor and love of America and its culture. He subsequently attended the University of Washington, where he studied philosophy, psychology, drama, and other subjects.
“While at college, Bruce began his legendary martial arts teaching career, initially as a means to pay for his education. Bruce’s willingness to teach martial arts to non-Chinese individuals as a way to bridge the cultures angered many in the field, and he was forced to defend his freedom as well as others’ rights to learn the arts.
“Bruce had a true desire and the fortitude needed to expand the reach of martial arts by breaking away from the exclusionary mentality that limited its reach. His ingenuity and creativity led him to Hollywood, where he became an authentic face for Chinese Americans and an inspiration to youth across the world. Simultaneously, he began to crate his own martial expression, ultimately naming it Jeet Kune Do.
“To millions of people around the world, Bruce Lee remains more than a celebrity or a martial arts legend — he was a true catalyst for social change and civil rights. His memory, which is brought to life every day by the work of his daughter Shannon Lee, who leads the Bruce Lee Foundation, remains a beacon of hope and opportunity for generations to come.
“It is my distinct honor to have introduced H.Res. 654 in this Congress in order to honor the life of Bruce Lee and the continuing contributions of the Bruce Lee Foundation to our nation … We ask our colleagues to join us in paying tribute to the life of Bruce Jun Fan Lee, a cultural and American icon as well as a master teacher, whose legacy resonates throughout the world for posterity.”
Known for such films as “Enter the Dragon,” “The Chinese Connection” and “Fists of Fury” as well as the TV series “The Green Hornet,” Lee is the subject of a new documentary, “I Am Bruce Lee.”
Shannon Lee executive-produced a 2008 TV series, “The Legend of Bruce Lee,” and a 2009 TV documentary, “How Bruce Lee Changed the World.” She has also done some acting, including a brief appearance in “Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story” (1993) and a guest-starring role in the TV series “Martial Law” (1998).
Bruce and Linda Lee also had a son, Brandon, who became an action film star (“Showdown in Little Tokyo,” “Rapid Fire”) and died while filming “The Crow” in 1993.
During her stay in Washington, D.C., Shannon Lee meet with members of Washington state’s congressional delegation to rally support for the Bruce Lee Action Museum.
“It was inspiring to see bipartisan efforts made on my father’s behalf,” she said of the House resolution. “I am truly touched and so honored for my father and his legacy.”