My Papa

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My family in the past makes up who I am and what my family will be in the future. Being of Japanese decent was not the most desired characteristic. Drastic changes were occurring in the 1940’s for citizens of America who were of Japanese heritage. Discrimination and scorn spread like wildfire throughout the countryside. Like thousands of other families, my great grandma and her three children were taken to an internment camp in Colorado during WWII. Tattooed with the family identification number in the camp, my Papa had to get out. Serving the country that had imprisoned his family was the only way. Signing his life over the Army, my grandpa was now heading down this path of character building and shaping at just fifteen years old. Although I may not be in a harsh life situation, I feel as though I have my own battles to fight every single day.
The judgment he received was not something that he deserved, nor was it something he could control. He was born with a certain ethnicity flowing through his veins. To prevent such treatment again, my great grandma changed the family last name so that the government would not suspect their Japanese origin. My Nana knew she had to take action to protect her family. The permanent damage was already done to my Papa’s opinion about this so-called ‘perfect’ country. This land of freedom and liberty was now clouded with a vision of sorrow filled faces waiting to return home to their loved ones.
Having gone through extreme situations, my Papa is wiser than anyone I know. His words are priceless and should be cherished more than they already are. After typical conversations about life and what is the most current event, my mind goes off on tangents exploring more logical thinking than it was before. Each talk is beneficial for my knowledge. Learning from his past and looking forward is no longer a motto but a way of life for him. No complaining words will leak out of his lips about his childhood. Grateful for his past, my Papa is not the typical loving and personal grandparent figure. Awkward hugs and annual ‘season greetings’ cards to the family make my Papa unique. These differences raise the love meter bar for my Papa just that much more.
After an action is already performed it cannot be undone. I learn to make everything count towards my personal goals. My journey of life will be extraordinary with paths that seem illogical. My Papa had not one little hint on his explorative and unhinged path of life. But I will always keep in mind that on my journey, someone has faced worse than I have and if they can manage through tough times so can I. I will be same strong person inside and out. Although there might be a different place and time of year, I forever will remember who I am and what made it possible for me to be a special member of this world. My family’s past has created my present. I represent my family’s name. Bearing it with a smile and my head held high I will strive to be a figure for someone to look up to like my Papa.





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