Share the dream, judge all equally

Mahalo​ ​to​ ​my​ ​friend,​ ​Jack​ ​Custer,​ ​for​ ​his​ ​letter​ ​in​ ​response​ ​to​ ​my​ ​letter to the editor​ ​(Aug.​ ​26),​ ​which​ ​expressed​ ​gratitude​ ​to​ ​Clinton​ ​Shiraishi and​ ​World War II​ ​veterans​ ​like​ ​him.​ While​ ​disturbing​ ​to​ ​many,​ ​Jack’s​ ​letter (Sept.​ ​3)​ ​gave​ ​me​ ​the​ ​chance​ ​to​ ​reflect​ ​on​ ​the​ ​nature​ ​of​ ​the misunderstanding.​ Hopefully​ ​I​ ​can​ ​bring​ ​some​ ​clarity​ ​in​ ​my​ ​response​ ​here. I​ ​think​ ​we​ ​are​ ​closer​ ​than​ ​appears.

Jack:​ ​I​ ​have​ ​not​ ​forgotten,​ ​nor​ ​will​ ​I​ ​ever​ ​forget,​ ​who​ ​bombed​ ​Pearl​ ​Harbor. It​ ​was​ ​the​ ​nation​ ​of​ ​Japan​ ​as​ ​represented​ ​by​ ​its​ ​leaders​ ​and​ ​the​ ​Japanese military.​ It​ ​was​ ​a​ ​dastardly​ ​act​ ​which​ ​caused​ ​death​ ​and​ ​suffering​ ​for​ ​many Americans.​ ​​Nothing​ ​can​ ​ever​ ​justify​ ​or​ ​excuse​ ​such​ ​an​ ​evil​ ​act.

It​​ was​​ against ​​the ​​Axis​​ powers,​​ including​​ Japan, ​​that​​ Japanese-A​merican (emphasis​ ​on​ ​“American”)​ ​soldiers​ ​like​ ​Clinton​ ​Shiraishi​ ​and​ ​my​ ​father fought.​ ​​ ​Mr.​ ​Shiraishi​ ​was​ ​injured​ ​and​ ​many​ ​Japanese-American​ ​soldiers died​ ​as​ ​part​ ​of​ ​the​ ​effort​ ​that​ ​ultimately​ ​saved​ ​the​ ​world​ ​from​ ​Nazi domination​ ​and​ ​the​ ​ideas​ ​of​ ​racial​ ​supremacy.

I​ ​wrote​ ​that​ ​Japanese-American​ ​soldiers​ ​fought​ ​on​ ​two​ ​fronts — against​ ​the enemies​ ​of​ ​America​ ​and​ ​against​ ​the​ ​prejudice​ ​of​ ​their​ ​own​ ​countrymen. This​ ​is​ ​best​ ​illustrated​ ​by​ ​the​ ​true​ ​story​ ​of​ ​the​ ​late​ ​U.S.​ ​Sen. ​Daniel​ ​K. Inouye,​ ​who​ ​lost​ ​his​ ​right​ ​arm​ ​as​ ​a​ ​Japanese-American​ ​soldier​ ​fighting​ ​with the​ ​famed​ ​442nd​ ​Infantry​ ​Regiment​ ​against​ ​the​ ​Axis​ ​powers​ ​in​ ​Europe. After​ ​the​ ​war,​ ​dressed​ ​in​ ​full​ ​U.S.​ ​Army​ ​uniform,​ ​without​ ​his​ ​right​ ​arm,​ ​he was​ ​refused​ ​a​ ​haircut​ ​in​ ​California​ ​because​ ​he​ ​looked​ ​like​ ​the​ ​“enemy.”

That’s​ ​all​ ​I​ ​was​ ​trying​ ​to​ ​say,​ ​Jack.​ ​​​I​ ​was​ ​not​ ​trying​ ​to​ ​excuse​ ​the​ ​Japanese government — only​ ​trying​ ​to​ ​hold​ ​up​ ​the​ ​dream​ ​of​ ​my​ ​dad,​ ​Mr.​ ​Shiraishi, Martin​ ​Luther​ ​King​ ​Jr.​ ​(whom​ ​I​ ​paraphrase​ ​here)​ ​and​ ​all​ ​of​ ​us​ ​who​ ​believe in​ aloha,​ ​which​ ​I’m​ ​sure​ ​includes​ ​you.​ ​It’s​ ​the​ ​dream​ ​that​ ​one​ ​day​ ​we​ ​will live​ ​in​ ​a​ ​world​ ​where​ ​people​ ​“will​ ​not​ ​be​ ​judged​ ​by​ ​the​ ​color​ ​of​ ​their​ ​skin​ ​but by​ ​the​ ​content​ ​of​ ​their​ ​character.”​ ​​It’s​ ​a​ ​dream​ ​World War II​ ​veterans​ ​died​ ​for. Now​ ​it’s​ ​our​ ​turn​ ​to​ ​make​ ​that​ ​dream​ ​reality,​ ​starting​ ​with​ ​ourselves.

•••

JoAnn​ ​Yukimura is a resident of Lihue and a member of the Kauai County Council.

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