The following message is from JACL National Executive Director Floyd Mori.
It is good that our thoughts are turned to Thanksgiving at this time of year. Gratitude is said to be the father of all virtues, so it is well that we exercise that virtue today.
As a nation, as a community, and as individuals, we have much to reflect upon in order that we get this aspect of our lives right. While too many are busy gathering up the spoils of their labors and seeking to embellish their already overflowing basket of material goods and personal treasures, we need to be busy counting our blessings and remembering why we have such a full life today with the many freedoms and privileges we have at the tips of our fingers.
School children are taught the story of the Pilgrims and their role in fostering the beginnings of an independent nation that includes the freedoms we enjoy today. Let me submit that the Asian American community has pilgrims and pioneers of our own who have made a great difference in how we are perceived and who provided the courage that caused us to enjoy the station in life that we have today.
My parents and older siblings are part of that generation that made it easier for us today. When I hear somebody say that they personally earned everything they have, I am saddened that they do not recognize that most of what we are able to attain today rests upon the pioneer immigrants of centuries ago and also the pioneer immigrants of the Asian American community who showed that courage, hard work, and strong cultural values make us who we are today.
So I am thankful for my parents, who toiled on the railroad and in the soil to make a place for me in today’s society. I am thankful for older brothers and sisters who upheld the values of their parents and paved the way in school and community in order that I had an easier time in making the grade and fitting into the community. I am thankful for an older brother who gave his life while serving in the United States Army for the freedoms and privileges that I can participate in and hope to improve.
I am thankful for the new immigrants of our nation who bring with them deep-rooted values that have carried them through many hardships. These new pilgrims maintain that same spirit that brought the original pilgrims to our shores and remind me each day that I must continue to do my part in making this a better nation for all.
Your challenge is to recognize that priceless gift of heritage and express your gratitude by being a more active and informed participant in our great democracy. No matter what our heritage is, there are people who came before us to whom we owe a great debt of gratitude.
On behalf of the Japanese American Citizens League, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.