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Remembering their Courage

Some people, understandably frustrated and anxious by restraints on their behavior imposed by the state, are comparing themselves with Japanese Americans during World War II and Rosa Parks. While the loss of freedom is painful — for some more than for others — it is temporary and forced by a government doing their best to protect the safety of all citizens by trying to control a deadly pandemic. This is a good time to remember the sacrifices that others have made before us to make a better world in desperate circumstances, and to express gratitude for the courage they showed in confronting fear and hatred.

Japanese Americans were forcibly removed from their homes, their businesses, their farms, their schools, told to take only what they could carry, and incarcerated in desolate prison camps surrounded by barbed wire, for up to four years. Years later, the U.S. government confirmed that the reasons were wartime hysteria, race prejudice, and failure of political leadership. Some graciously accepted their fate, some protested the injustice, and some went to war to fight for the U.S., with many maimed and killed. Today we honor their sacrifice.

Rosa Parks was a woman who refused the order to give up her seat on a segregated bus so that a white passenger could sit. Tired of giving in to a society that treated her as less than others, by forcing her to sit in the rear of the bus and stand if a white person wanted her seat, she was arrested, lost her department store job and her husband too was fired. Her defiance sparked a bus boycott and its success launched nationwide efforts to end racial segregation of public facilities. In her simple gesture she helped change America and change the world.

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