"To see what is right and not to do it is cowardice." -- Confucius

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Nicholas V. Chen

Bill Hohri taught me about courage. He taught me about commitment and steadfastness in the face of seemingly impossible odds. Initiating and sustaining a class action law suit against a powerful government in its own courts to seek redress for a massive state sponsored violation of all the basic freedoms and rights guaranteed by the Constitution was not an insurmountable challenge to Bill.

He saw the need to raise and defend the sanctity of the rule of law, fairness, due process and equal protection, which are fundamental pillars of the American promise. He knew the message was just and strong, and that people would rally to this ideal. In fact, he brought together many people from across the spectrum to make a statement and help defend these values. That courage, that resolve, and that clarity to defend what is right is what made Bill Hohri "Master Yoda" to me.

He knew that the law would protect the future and that he and others would join together to protect the law. He knew that the forces of the empire would be formidable. Bill Hohri won that battle, since he secured the hearts and minds of many with the NCJAR lawsuit. The battle was not to be won or lost by scoring legal points. The battle was won and lost by taking the moral high ground and educating the people and the government that such conduct would be subject to the people’s and history’s accountability.

This was not an issue of Japanese Americans nor Asian Americans nor just Americans; this was a battle for right vs. wrong, of good vs. evil, for inoculating a society that throughout its short history has desperately needed booster shots. Bill Hohri not only spearheaded this necessary periodic vaccination; he trained a portion of the next generation of medics to pass on his tonic and treatments.

His uncompromising commitment to fundamental human rights and the freedoms that make America special were enhanced, not eroded, by the adversities of E.O. 9066. The crucible that forged our teacher Bill Hohri was the massive injustice perpetrated on Japanese Americans by a government that smothered freedoms in the dark cloak of national security. I know that the current day attempts to erode the rights and freedoms of other “suspect classifications” help reaffirm that Bill Hohri’s life’s work remains our responsibility; it is our obligation and our responsibility to uphold the motto that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Bill Hohri was master Yoda to me. His “force” runs strong still. He taught us that the Ronin need not fear the odds, nor the journey, nor the struggle. My teacher, friend and older brother Bill Hohri taught me and others that one’s conscience is one’s compass.

As you travel to the other side, Master Yoda, know that this day we teach our sons and daughters about the 47 Ronin and the modern day champions of the most important values of life. You have changed us and shaped us and crafted us to be the moral persons we strive to be.

Thanks for the precious lessons of life dear Master. We will wield our light sabers for the forces of good as you would want.

May the Force be with you Bill, and we will see you on the other side of the rainbow, dear friend.

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