This is story of a successful immigrant to this country and it has a Nebraska connection. A true story.
A week or so ago our son who lives in Yorba Linda, California, had guests for the day. It was a threesome of Kwans, Young and his two eldest daughters both college age pre-med students. Doing very well. Home for the Kwans is Stone Mountain, Georgia, an outskirt of Atlanta.
They had flown to the L.A. area to attend the wedding of a cousin and made a day to visit with Don and his family. It was off to the beach and more.
Don, a graduate of McCook High School, went to Lincoln to attend UNL. His freshman year, he lived in the dorm and found the life not to his agreement.
Something about young male students bringing their girlfriends to spend the night he found contrary to his upbringing. One of his roommates was into more partying than studying and Don was awakened in the middle of the night to see the still inebriated young man standing in his bed peeing on the floor. That was it -- he had enough of the liberal lifestyle and negotiated a move to the better-behaved International Dorm.
The students living there came from countries around the world and were in Lincoln to get an education. Evenings were quiet -- a time for study.
Vacation time found Don bringing his newfound International friends home to our rural Nebraska home to experience the real Nebraska. I remember visits of young men from Africa, Korea, Japan, Germany and more.
One spring, Don appealed to me to hire his friend, Young, to work on the farm for the summer. I needed summer help and Young professed farming experience.
Somehow that was mostly a myth because in his native Korea Young had worked helping some of his relation in tending to a 21⁄2-acre rice farm. A bit different from raising irrigated corn and soybeans. Nevertheless, Young adapted quickly, learned to drive the tractor to cultivate and the hundreds of other tasks of a farming operation. The young man knew how to work!
Young was born in Seoul, Korea at the time of the Korean War. His father was killed in battle and Young was raised by his widowed mother and several older brothers.
When he became of age after finishing public school he was drafted into the Korean Army and served the compulsory two years. He also taught himself the English language by watching the American Armed Forces Radio and TV.
Somehow he developed the dream of coming to America and attain a degree in Engineering.
I presume he had family help from older brothers who were successful in business by that the time.
We bunked Young in our unfinished basement and shortly he got into Grannie Annie's heart by calling her "mom" and praising her cooking.
He still remembers her with a card and significant cash each Mother's Day. He showed her how to make kimchee, kimbob, cold noodles and other common Korean foods. Somehow we never acquired a taste for eating his raw fish or "law fish" as he pronounced it.
Actually, Young was in the U.S. on a student visa that didn't permit having a job for pay. To me that is bureaucratic nonsense and when a man works for me he earns full pay, which he gladly accepted and used for school expense.
Best I remember, Young worked on my farm for three summers before graduating from the U. Then he traveled to Florida to eventually earn a PhD in Fluid Dynamics. In Lakeland, he supported himself by working for a dealer selling cars. There Lucy also came into his life.
Lucy was an American Citizen by right of birth. Her parents were Japanese who were assigned to the Japanese Embassy at the time of her birth. As a very small child, she and her folks returned to Japan were she attended public school. Upon her graduation, her folks sent her to America to attend college.
When Young found her she was a lost soul at school. Her English skills were inadequate, and she was homesick.
For those who are unaware, there exists great animosity between the Korean and Japanese people.
They just don't date much less marry, but when a pretty Asian college girl feels lost in her world and a warm and friendly Asian man offers assistance out of her sorry dilemma sometime love blossoms and a forbidden marriage takes place. As a bonus for Young, marrying Lucy also paved the way for him to become a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Then, with degree in hand, Young went to work for huge defense contractor Lockheed. He is a structural engineer with expertise in the C-130 and has spent an entire career with them. One of his memorable projects was rebuilding the P-3, submarine patrol aircraft, that was involved in a mid-air collision with a Chinese fighter aircraft and made a forced landing on Hainan Island.
He is proudly solid conservative in political outlook.
Lucy earned her RN nursing degree and works for a close-by maternity hospital. I detect a little "tiger mom" action as their two daughters have done exceptionally well in school. The girls younger brother might have been a bit spoiled and maybe isn't quite meeting academic expectations but he is still in high school.
So here we have an Asian couple who have come to the United States to become educated. They have elected to stay and do what they can to make this country a better place. Young even claims to be a "proud red-neck southern boy."
I welcome their citizenship and am proud to call them American. Productive adults, great kids, they are what being American is all about.
That is how I saw it.