As I said yesterday, "This week I am attending workshops in Tempe, Arizona, on topics related to leadership and ministry in Native Christian Churches. (Saying "Native American Churches" means another thing.) Here are a few random thoughts from today." To read yesterday's thoughts see here.

1. Tonight we are having ( I left early) a "cultural night" in the auditorium. A sort of mini-pow-wow. The evening began, as do all pow-wows I'm familiar with, with the posting of the colors done by veterans. We all stood as the honor guard presented the flag, then pledged allegiance to the United States of America. I feel humbled whenever I stand among Native peoples who demonstrate their patriotism, peoples who could rightfully hate this country, but instead serve as proud citizens. I've written of Indian patriotism before here and here and elsewhere. The color guard was from American Legion Ira Hayes Post No. 84, a racially mixed post including Native Americans.

2. Following the flag ceremony a WW2 veteran and member of the Legion Post gave a talk on his life. He was of Japanese descent. His father immigrated to the US in 1900, his mother in 1916. They were prohibited by law from becoming naturalized citizens, though their son and his siblings born here were citizens. When the draft was activated he was processed, but not inducted because he farmed. Following Pearl Harbor his father was arrested by the FBI, though never publically charged, and held in North Dakota. He continued farming until FDR signed the relocation order. Then, given only a few days to sell the farm, livestock, etc., he was processed as a detainee, being sent to the camp on the Gila River Indian Reservation in Arizona. (His draft classification, like that of other citizens sent to the camps, was reclassified as "Undesirable.") He was quite clear that he regarded this action as unjust and a violation of his rights as a citizen. However, the military soon realized its need for Japanese readers and speakers in the Pacific theater, and asked for volunteers from each camp to join the military as translators. He did. For the rest of the war he served in India and Burma assigned to the British, then with American forces in China. Finally, he finished his service in occupied Japan. Returning home after the war he found he had to start over. A kind neighbor to the family farm had allowed the family to store some machinery in his barn which he sold on behalf of the family during the war shortages. This money provided the nest egg to begin again. Eventually the family owned a farm in Arizona. He now is retired, and a proud Legion member. And, a patriot, who expressed his loyalty and love for America tonight.

3. He provided us a key to understanding the mystery of his patriotism by telling the story of the return of the highly decorated 442d to the United States after WW2. He told that President Truman, honoring this unit, told them that they had shown the country courage and loyalty. He then challenged them to continue the fight to hold America to its own highest ideals. For this citizen of Japanese ancestry, and I think for the Native American veterans, America is ultimately not a region of territory, nor a particular government administration, nor simply the sum of past injustice; America is an ideal to be defended and fought for against all enemies both foreign and domestic.