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

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Wilbur Sato & Yukikazu Nagashima

Thank you, Yuriko, for the privilege and honor of participating in the celebration of William’s life.
With You a Part of Me
By George Santayana
    With you a part of me hath passed away;
    For in the peopled forest of my mind
    A tree made leafless by this wintry wind
    Shall never don again its green array.
    Chapel and fireside, country road and bay,
    Have something of their friendliness resigned;
    Another, if I would, I could not find,
    And I am grown much older in a day.
    But yet I treasure in my memory
    Your gift of charity, and young heart’s ease,
    And the dear honor of your amity;
    For these once mine, my life is rich with these.
    And I scarce know which part may greater be —
    What I keep of you, or you rob from me.

William Hohri was a remarkable man with monumental accomplishments. But what is most remarkable is his triumph over adversity.

William Hohri was a child in the period of our history when we lived in segregated neighborhoods, had segregated schools, had discrimination in college entrance requirements, had job discrimination, had anti-miscegenation laws and discrimination in public accommodations. We lived during a time of hurtful and humiliating prejudice.

William’s fight for equality and human dignity for all Americans was an important part of his triumph over the pain and humiliation of that period.

William Hohri was also a child of the Great Depression where massive unemployment, grinding poverty and a lack of adequate social services and healthcare took a terrible toll on the poor and minority communities.

William was a victim of enormous poverty. His parents were stricken with tuberculosis and confined in a sanitarium. As a result, William was separated from his parents and placed in the Shonien orphanage. This trauma was the most painful of all the consequences of the oppression of poverty.

But William’s sense of gaman and ganbatte and sheer will to survive were part of the experiences that gave him the strength of character that enabled him to provide the leadership for the National Council for Japanese American Redress.

His life was also an essential lesson that health and human services must be included in our fight for justice and the triumph over adversity.

Perhaps the greatest adversity that William had to overcome was the horrendous incarceration of Japanese Americans in concentration camps. The entire Japanese American community was affected, which led to impoverishment, humiliation, alienation, loss of property, devaluation of culture and language, decimation of communities, the destruction of our Constitutional rights, and the failure of the Supreme Court to uphold the Constitution and protect our civil rights.

William’s life of community activism for civil rights was a preparatory step that created a foundation for his role as leader of NCJAR.

William Hohri was brilliant in his strategy to use the federal court system to secure redress for Constitutional violations since the courts have the ultimate duty to protect and uphold Constitutional rights. It was especially appropriate since the courts had failed to protect our rights in the Fred Korematsu case. The wisdom of the strategy was also a presage to future litigants to use the courts to protect their rights.

Ultimately, this strategy was the hammer that influenced Congress to pass the redress legislation.

William’s work in the redress movement was his final triumph over the great adversities of his life.
I Think Continually of Those Who Were Truly Great
By Stephen Spender
    I think continually of those who were truly great.
    Who, from the womb, remembered the soul’s history
    Through corridors of light where the hours are suns
    Endless and singing.…

    Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields
    See how these names are feted by the waving grass
    And by the streamers of white cloud
    And whispers of wind in the listening sky.
    The names of those who in their lives fought for life
    Who wore at their hearts the fire’s centre.
    Born of the sun they traveled a short while towards the sun,
    And left the vivid air signed with their honour.

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