I was told the meaning of “Arigatai” in Japanese is to be grateful and showing gratitude. It’s
similar to “arigato” which most people know as “thank you.” My parents and grandparents told
me to always be grateful. When people are young, the idea of being grateful is foreign to them.
They expect everything to be handed to them. As one becomes older and hopefully wiser does
one know the idea of gratitude? As I was growing up, I remembered complaining to my mom,
“Why am I Japanese?” I always felt embarrassed when the family went on an outing and
planned to picnic along the way. We would stop by the road and bring out the bento. Strangers
would drive by staring at us eating our rice and teriyaki chicken with chopsticks. I would eat my
lunch and get back into the car or walk away from the picnic. Now I’m grateful to my parents for
getting up early to make the bento lunch for us to enjoy on our way to our destination.
Nowadays, what can be more fashionable than properly eating sushi with chopsticks? We had
a car with a tank full of gas to go places and we never had to worry about missing a meal.
I didn’t appreciate growing up on the farm as the days were hot in the summer. There were no
stores nearby and my friends all lived miles and miles away. I worked for free summer after
summer only to be rewarded with a trip to the State Fair at the end of the season. I appreciate
what I learned living on the farm, especially learning to drive different vehicles at an early age. I
went to college without having to work as my parents paid for all the expenses. My dad bought
me a brand new 1972 Dodge Colt to drive to school. When I got married, my parents paid for
the reception. Looking back, I would not have amassed enough money to pay for college, a car,
and a wedding.
We should be thankful to the people who passed away before us. As we grow older, we will
experience more deaths of our friends, families and relatives. We should reflect on what they
added to our lives. I have had friends in my life who have been helpful. They guided me in the
right direction to make sure I didn’t get into trouble. They taught me things and didn’t expect
anything in return. Our parents have always loved and supported us and all they ever expected
in return has been for us to be good, successful citizens.
As Memorial Day passes, I’m grateful to the soldiers that keep our nation safe. I’m grateful to
the 442 Battalion and Japanese American soldiers during WWII who sacrificed their lives so that
we can be accepted as Americans. They followed the motto, “go for broke” which means to not
do anything halfway. A motto I’ve always tried to apply in my personal life.
Mother’s Day has passed and Father’s Day is coming up soon. I’m thankful that my dad lived a
long, healthy life and my mom is continuing to do so. I am trying to live a long healthy life as
well. I’m thankful that my parents taught me to be a good person and to live the right way. My
dad passed away two years ago and I wish I could tell him that you were a good father, you
taught me well and not to worry, that we are doing ok. I hope he was proud how his boys turned
out although, he must have had doubts when we were young.
So, thank you Mom and Dad, Ojiichan and Obachan for having the courage to come to this
nation all on your own, not giving up on your religion, tolerate a naïve country that incarcerated
it’s Japanese citizens and working hard to make a good living so all of us after you would have
the opportunity to make a good life.