Rev. Eric Matsumoto
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald
I believe each generation has a role in the continuum of civilization. Each generation is influenced by the generation that came before it and, in turn, impacts the one after it.
I think the Issei generation’s legacy was tremendous courage and, through perseverance, the successful transplanting of themselves onto American soil. The Issei overcame unimaginable hardships and difficulties not only for their own sake, but especially for the sake of the next generation, their Nisei children.
For the Nisei, especially because of World War II, their legacy was proving that Japanese Americans were loyal Americans of Japanese ancestry and, later, contributing to the American scene in a way that changed the landscape of Hawai‘i forever. The Nisei proved, beyond a doubt, that Japanese Americans are loyal, trustworthy and contributing members of our nation.
Now, the Sansei generation. If I had to utilize labels, and very generally at that, I would say as far as identity is concerned, the Issei generation considered themselves “Japanese.” The Nisei thought of themselves as “Japanese Americans.” However, beginning with the Sansei generation, increasingly, we see ourselves as simply “Americans” with ethnically Japanese roots. The Sansei generation no longer has the need to prove themselves based on their ethnicity. The Nisei had already magnificently accomplished that with their valor and industry.
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