Apr 29, 2020

As seen in CNN: The Japanese American hero who saved my family

Excerpt from CNN.com

Five years ago, two friends texted me cryptically asking if I knew a Larry Lubetzky from Mexico. Yes, I replied. He was my uncle. They were seated in the audience as Susumu Ito, then 96 years old, projected a postcard from my uncle on a screen.

Ito had been invited by the US-Japan Council and the American Jewish Committee Asia Pacific Institute to share his experience during the liberation of Dachau as part of the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

The 75th Anniversary on Wednesday of the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp in Germany comes at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic is ravaging lives and livelihoods across our world while division, hatred and authoritarianism are thriving…

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A postcard sent from Larry Lubetzky to Susumu Ito

COVID-19          Empathy

More from Daniel

2022 High Point University Commencement Address

Today, I want to talk about a light and fluffy subject: your generation’s role in steering humanity in the right direction. No pressure, Dalton. 

But in all seriousness, Dalton, I love what you shared about “leaving everywhere you go better than you found it…and finding ways to give grace and inspiration to the people around you.”  

I want to talk today about HOW to do that as you are all simultaneously challenged and blessed with graduating as our world is re-entering a stage of dramatic consequence. 

The ship of humanity is moving in the wrong direction, and it will be upon all of you to steer it back on track. 

To illustrate this point, I want to compare the circumstances when my father’s generation came of age, to those when my generation and your generation graduated from college. 

My father was fifteen-and-a-half when he was liberated from the Dachau concentration camp by American soldiers. He was barely alive.  He never got to go to school past third grade, let alone college. Several of your grandparents were around your age when they were sent to free Europe from tyranny and darkness. 

By contrast, when I was fifteen years-old, my family immigrated to America from Mexico. I was able to attend college during a period when passionate but cordial debate was the norm. I remember observing political leaders vehemently disagree on a particular topic, while maintaining a friendship rooted in respect. Our world was far from perfect – but the arc of human progress trended in an upward direction. Freedom, open markets, human rights, civility, and the quest for knowledge were all advancing.  

It seemed almost too good to be true.  In fact, it was so good that we began to lose sight that Our Great American Experiment isn’t so much a fixed state of affairs as it is a purposeful daily affirmation – something that we opt into, live out, and vote for not once every four years, but every single day – through how we engage with one another. 

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