Daughters, Love, Politics, Writing

My letter to President-Elect Donald Trump

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Back in November I wrote a letter to President Elect Donald Trump. Our daughter Suzanne suggested I send it out as a blog. So, here it is:

Dear President-Elect Trump —

I have a long record of writing to U.S. presidents.  As a young boy, I wrote to no less a figure than Franklin Delano Roosevelt, our president at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor 75 years ago. Then as now, I was a Hawaii resident.  (Hawaii was still a territory then, not yet a state.)

I told the President of my loyal participation in the war bond program, selling savings stamps to fellow students.  And I got a letter of response from his personal secretary, Grace Tully — a letter I have kept and treasured to this day.

I have also written a fan letter, a few years ago, to Barrack Obama, who happened to have been born in the same hospital as I — Kapiolani Hospital in Honolulu.  That letter, too, was acknowledged.

So I figure that, even as an 82-year-old, why not write to the next president of the U.S.A., to express what’s on my mind!

Frankly, Mr. President-Elect, you have frightened and dismayed many Americans, including me, with your fiery rhetoric about deporting illegal immigrants and building walls (making Mexico pay for them) — and more.  This does not sound like the U.S.A. in which I have grown up and love so deeply!

My ancestry dates back to William Brewster, one of the the Pilgrims who came to America on the Mayflower in 1620.  That makes me the offspring of “undocumented” immigrants, and I expect that applies to you as well!

So may I suggest that you adopt as a secondary slogan: “LOVE NEVER FAILlETH.”  Those are the words inscribed above the altar at the church where my wife Margie and I worship each Sunday.

Respectfully, with aloha,

Christopher (Kit) Smith

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December 7, 1941, Nostalgia, Pearl Harbor attack, World War II, Writing

The Day Our World Changed

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Dec. 7 is coming up in several weeks and it will mark the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  Obviously, it will stir the strongest memories among people who were living in Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941 — including me.

As a then 7-year-old boy, I still have vivid memories, of course. They were stirred recently as I came across a yellowed handwritten letter from Vincent J. Repaci, who fought in World War II as an Army enlisted man.  I had written him and he responded.

Vincent was among a group of a dozen or so soldiers bivouacked in a small temporary barracks on our large leasehold property on Kahala Avenue.  A “pillbox,” with machine guns, had been installed on the beach.

As I recall, Vincent had helped my dad cut down an unwanted tree, between our home and the beach, and I had befriended him.  Soon afterward, Vincent was shipped off to fight in the Pacific Islands.

As recorded in a previous blog, I liked to send and receive letters from folks up to Franklin D. Roosevelt, Vincent Repaci’s ultimate commander in chief.  So why not Vincent?

Here, much abbreviated, are thoughts he recorded in his letter.  (The letter also had certain sections snipped out, I assume by a censor.)

“I received your letter when I first reached the place where we were going. And we have been fighting ever since. . . . This is the first time I got a chance to write a letter.

“Tom is okay and so is Mac. . . . I hope you are not mad at me for not writing sooner . . . I hope you can read my writing, I am in a hurry.

“Tell Mr. and Mrs. Smith I said hello.”

“I will try to get you some Japanese money to send to you and your brother and mother and dad. . . Tell everybody I said hello.”

        “Your pal, 

                 Vincent J. Repaci.

Statistics show that almost 42,000 Army ground forces died in the Pacific theater in World War II.  We’ve always assumed that was Vincent’s fate.  May, he and all of the others, rest in peace.  They are all heroes.

(About the book cover pictured above:  More than a decade ago, a Punahou School friend, Johnny Bowles, solicited from classmates their recollections of December 7.  The result is a book called “The Day Our World Changed,” published by Ice Cube Press, North Liberty, Iowa.  It has received excellent reviews.)

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cancer, Leukemia, marathons, running, Writing

Alicia and Patty: Kindred Souls

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On Sunday June 26, Margie and I ran the Mango Days 5K, held each year at Ala Moana Park, not far from Waikiki Beach.  The run is named after our daughter Patty’s book, Mango Days, which I compiled from her personal journal, poems and letters to her best friend.  Patty (above right) died of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at age 18, before she was able to finish even one year of college.

Very recently, in an ongoing bid to clean up my office, I was sorting through saved mail when I came across a handwritten letter from Alicia Parlette (above left), then employed by the San Francisco Chronicle.  She had read Mango Days and was deeply touched.

In the letter, Alicia writes that despite a hectic personal schedule, “I had to stop everything and write to you.”

“Patty and I would have been friends, I know it.  First of all she’s the only other person in the world who actually thought about being a copy editor (smiley face sketched in).  Some of her personal entries . . . particularly the ones about writing resemble some of mine from when I was 16, 17, 18.  And I LOVE mangoes!”

She goes on:  “I lied. The thing I wanted to do after I leafed through her book wasn’t to write to you.  I wanted to write her.”

“And I think I will.  I do this with my mom.  I write her letters and leave them on her grave until the cemetery keepers throw them away.  She and Patty had the same disease, you know.  Another connection.”

The letter was written in October 2005.  Seven years earlier, Alicia had herself developed cancer, experiencing pain in the area of her right hip, forcing her to drop out of cross country running.

That’s still another connection.  Patty, too, loved to run, and at age 17 completed the Honolulu Marathon.  Crossing that finish line was perhaps the proudest moment of her life.

Alicia died on April 22, 2012.  During her final days, friends read aloud to her, To Kill A Mocking Bird, her favorite book.  She died twenty minutes after the last chapter was finished.

I wish Patty and Alicia could have met. Who knows? Maybe they are having a good conversation even now!

 

 

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