Poem Recalls Plantation Days
Editor’s Note: The poem below was written by E. Ileina Funakoshi, who was a member of the Class of 1951 at Waipahu High School
AMERICA, MY HAWAII NEI
Born in a sugar plantation with no dreams, but poverty
Transform mud, plants, paper and cans into games and toys Trapping birds and catching crayfish
There was no food stamps or welfare
But fish and clams to be had in the ocean
Then bombs fell and the music stopped
There were banners with stars in the windows
Much sorrow fell upon our plantation town.
A lot of chatter, the 442nd boys were coming home
Peace again. We would be free to do Japanese things again.
But, by then, we had grown and were leaving home.
There were no jobs, cleaning houses or yards were the options
Education is the only way out, our parents said
Left for the big country where we were still called Japs.
We were children from Hawaii
With Aloha spirit to spread among hatred
For this land has given us the strength to endure and succeed.
‘Tis no more tho — doors are locked, danger lurks in the streets
No more rose apples, ‘ohi’a, guava trees in the hills nor cane tassels waving or pineapples growing alongside the road
We have come a long way, or have we?