years after Hawaii became a state, Congressman Leo O'Brien recalled the swearing in of its
first Congressman. "On that day, a young man, just elected to Congress from
the brand new state, walked into the well of the House and faced the late Speaker Sam
Rayburn. The House was very still. It was about to witness the swearing in,
not only of the first congressman from Hawaii, but the first American of Japanese descent
to serve in either House of Congress.
"'Raise your right hand and repeat after me,' intoned Speaker Rayburn.
"The hush deepened as the young Congressman raised not his right hand but his left
and he repeated the oath of office. There was no right hand. It had been lost
in combat by that young American soldier in World War II. Who can deny that, at that
moment, a ton of prejudice slipped quietly to the floor of the House of Representatives."
A young lieutenant's dreams of becoming a doctor had died the day he attacked
the enemy alone, in advance of his men, to save them from the fire of hidden
machineguns. Despite repeated wounds, he did his job. Then he returned home to
continue his American service.