The Sugihara Story

I was five years old.

In 1940 my father was a diplomat, representing the country of Japan.  Our family lived in a small town in the small country called Lithuania…one early morning in late July, my life changed forever…

“There are a lot of people outside,” my mother said.  ‘We don’t know what is going to happen…They have come to ask for your father’s help…Unless we help, they may be killed or taken away by some bad men.”

My father said to my mother, “I have to do something.  I may have to disobey my government, but if I don’t, I will be disobeying God.”

Back then, I did not fully understand what [my father] had done, or why it was so important.

I do now.

Hiroki Sugihara tells about the weeks when his father wrote permits for several thousand Jews to travel across Russia to Japan.  That was the only direction these people could go to escape from the Nazis who wanted to kill them.  If they could take a train all the way across Russia, and a ship to Japan, they could go on to other countries and live safely.

The Japanese government ordered Mr. Sugihara not to write the travel permits.  Mr. Sugihara knew he could be punished, but he wrote permit after permit, day after day, until he was sent away from Lithuania.

Hiroki Sugihara, who wrote Passage to Freedom, was that five-year-old boy.

I respect Colin Kaepernick

I find it ridiculous that kneeling for the National Anthem is considered disrespectful to our flag.

  • We kneel in awe at a Power greater than ourselves.  We kneel in petition to a king or queen (or we did generations ago–I’m not up on today’s court etiquette).  Some people kneel to pray in church, or at home.  Protest becomes an active prayer when there are wrongs that need to be righted.  Seeing a wrong, really seeing and understanding it, is enough to send persons of conscience to their knees.
  • When I was growing up, there were towns and States where black people could not sit in restaurants or on buses and black children could not go to swimming pools.  People were upset when they sat in protest, and I don’t think there’s any difference when people protest if a  black player kneels, but not when a white one (like Tim Tebow) kneels or bows in prayer.
  • Disrespect, as I see it, is wandering around eating a hot dog or sipping a cola while the anthem is played.  Or making obscene gestures.  Or yelling in protest.  Or continuing a conversation.   It bugs me if I’m in someone’s home when a game comes on and everyone remains seated and continues chatting during the national anthem.
  • For that matter, not respecting what our flag stands for:  freedom of speech, justice for all, respect for those whose beliefs,  color, abilities, tattoos, politics, or language differs from ours–is more important than a person’s posture when the flag is displayed.
  • Kneeling has never been associated with disrespect.  You wouldn’t kneel before a man you couldn’t respect unless you were forced to!  If you disrespect someone, you turn your back, or walk off to do something else, or keep talking to another person, or tell him exactly what you think!

I cannot respect a man who tweets, with language I don’t want our grandchildren to hear, about firing people who stand up–or kneel down–for what’s right, honorable, and respectful of others.

Of course I respect Colin Kaepernick, and I hope some NFL person, or whoever makes those decisions, will hire him so he can put his talents to work.

YES, I KNOW THE HEADER PHOTO IS NEITHER NFL NOR FOOTBALL.  I have to confess that the last sports event we attended was Lacrosse, and we love these active little boys!