lauren irieBy LAUREN IRIE, West Torrance High School

First Prize, Essay, High School

One suitcase, each family, all else left behind

Dignity, freedom, liberty: were those left too?

Trapped, alienated, segregated, confined

Stripped from their red, white, and blue.

Is this the American way?

Citizen or alien? Friend or foe?

Should I fight or should I stay?

Are you a yes-yes or a no-no?

Yet the great sea crashing against the shores

Grasping, clasping the land of both of homes

Engulfed in sweat, sorrow, and war

Treated like monsters in this world we roam.

Our freedom and families we defend

Don’t take back a single stroke

Never give in, until the final end

We all stand strong: “go for broke.”

I, a Japanese American, stand free today

Thanks to the sacrifice of those before

The courage of every soldier, every child, every Nikkei

Who plowed through the demands of war.

Go, go, go, forward, go forward

Fight for our freedom, liberty, our pride

Never take another step backward

Strength in every leap, every march, every stride.

I plan on majoring in chemical or aerospace engineering in college. I have been vice president of my school’s Japanese Cultural Club for two years, and will be president next year. I have been attending Gardena Buddhist Church’s Japanese Language School since I was five years old, which has encouraged me to learn more about the Japanese language and culture. My inspiration to participate in this contest is my Japanese American grandfather who used to always say the famous quote: “Give me liberty, or give me death.”




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