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Happy Independence Day and What America Means to Me

Independence Day means a lot to me because without the US I wouldn’t have had the opportunities, successes and wonderful life that I’ve made here and am eternally grateful for. I have a beautiful, wise and smart wife and a wonderful daughter. We have awesome family & friends. I'm living the American Dream!
To give you a little back story, I was born in Japan and received US citizenship at birth, but I lived most of my childhood in Okinawa and Tokyo, Japan. I visited the US for the first time when I was 17 and didn’t move here permanently until a few years later. In Japan there are many half kids (Hāfu is what they called us) like me that during the 80’s and 90’s grew up in a hybrid culture, often in poverty. Neither American nor Japanese. English is my first language; I didn’t get to attend high school, and I started working full time at 15 years old in Tokyo. While living and working there many of my friends commented on how fortunate I was to have US citizenship because it could open endless opportunities. In Japan I knew my ceiling was limited because the majority work hard and are smart, and without educational opportunities or being fluent in Japanese I wasn’t sure how I could distinguish myself. I taught English part time but got paid 50% less than those with a Bachelor’s degree. I pursued some opportunities in Australia and Taiwan that didn't work out. In the back of my mind I pondered on moving to the US, so I could get my GED and go to college to pursue a career of my choice. 

Two decades ago I moved to San Diego and worked 2 jobs while going to night school to get my GED. A few months later I joined the Army for four years, spent time in different countries, deployed and after leaving I used my GI Bill to complete my Bachelors and Masters. It was also during this time that Jesus saved me, and He get's the praise and glory for all of this. 
When I joined the Army I didn’t know much about US history, our founding fathers, the Revolutionary War and why it was fought. It turns out when you join the military during a time of war you can get deployed and die. This is when I started to deeply think and study about what I was fighting for and the history of the US. I grew a great appreciation for all of those who came before me, who fought and sacrificed much in their different capacities so that I can enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I'm thankful for all of those presently living a life of selfless service. 

Every 4th of July I remember where I came from and what life would’ve been like had I not moved to the US and drastically changed my life’s course. This is longer than I intended to write. I just wanted to share with you all how much I love the US and how blessed I am to live here. 
Thank you all for your support the past few years since we launched summer of 2021. We wouldn't be here without you. 
Note: In the picture I'm on the bottom very left holding the red guidon. 

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