We have been through one of the toughest years we’ve ever faced.
I am reminded of my grandparents and parents who lived through World War I, the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, the Great Depression, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, earthquakes, typhoons, 12 major recessions, but always put on a brave face and rose above it all.
They rose above the Asian Exclusion Act of 1882 and the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924 limiting their chances of crossing the Pacific Ocean in search of a dream, a new life. They rose above the horrible contract labor conditions that attracted thousands of immigrant workers to the sugar cane plantations in Hawaii, to the transcontinental railroad in Utah, and to the central valley farmlands of California, in the late 1800s. They rose above the racism and prejudice that kept them from owning land, starting a business, and naturalization, during the early 1900s.
They rose above the consternation and anxiety as they watched their home being bombarded on December 7, 1941. They rose above the dismay and disillusionment as Executive Order 9066 was signed on February 19, 1942, sending them to the military concentration camp in Rohwer, Arkansas. They rose above the suspicions and hatred to volunteer for the U.S. Army, to fight the Nazis in Europe, to prove their loyalty, and strive for a better life for their loved ones.
They rose in a country that did not welcome them, that constantly made their lives oppressive, and even denounced their civil and human rights. They lost everything but rose, to start over, time and time again.
I am reminded of their strength and determination to make our world better and give us greater freedoms and opportunities. I see that strength and determination in their children and the generations who have followed. I see it in all my Hawaii family and my California family. Let us rise. Let’s never forget.
Wishing you all a better 2021.