By 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.”
So proud of my niece Mayumi (Lauren)!