As July 4th draws nears I remind myself what does this day really mean to me. As a Korean American I share a history of people who sought to live freely both in America and Korea. It took an idea that "all men are created equal" and put into action by others who sacrificed before us. Reminding me of the same spirit to fight for independence and self-determination. Hence "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." I want to take this moment to share what Seo Jai-Pil aka Philip Jaisohn wrote to the second generation of Korean Americans back in February 23, 1939 in an article on The New Korea.
"The Second Generation of Koreans Should Contribute Their Share to American Prosperity
In many ways the poorest American enjoys more privileges and luxuries than the riches Korean. He can send his children to find schools. He is protected from fire, pestilence, and robbery. Hospital service is at his command for asking, public parks are open to him, his rights as a citizen are respected by all, his personal liberty, and social security of his home and family is just as zealously guarded by the police and courts of his community as those of his millionaire neighbor. There is no legal of social barrier for him to rise up to any high level in society to which he may aspire. In this age of dictatorships in many parts of the world where people are gradually losing their freedom, those of us living in America should be thankful.
As a token of our gratefulness, let us all give our best to keep America free from economic and social oppression, and at the same time let us direct our thoughts and activities to the work of producing some commodities that will contribute to the wealth and prosperity of the communities in which we live. I know that some Koreans have done quite well along this line by putting on the market certain food products. New Ilhan of Detroit and Peter Hyun of Los Angeles are some of the outstanding examples, but these two are not enough. We should have more as there are many other fields where the second generation of the Koreans can enter and make a success. Some of us have to sell our services for a living and some are obliged to sell. The most valuable service we can give America is to create something new that will meet the needs of the American people." (My Days in Korea and Other Essays by Philip Jaisohn, M.D. Edited by Sun-pyo Hong, Yonsei Univ. Press, pg. 80)
What are you creating? Happy Independence Day.