WHY I MARCH: ROOTS
This MARCH that I embark on today started with my maternal grandfather and grandmother, who escaped by foot in the 1940s from the then impending takeover by communist forces of what is now known as North Korea. With my barely 1-year-old mom on their backs, traveling by night on foot through treacherous forest and mountain terrain for safety, they marched stealthily and steadily to a possibly better (but not guaranteed) future in southern Korea.
My mom continued that MARCH by immigrating as a young 20-something Korean woman in the 1970s to the United States—a place that was, to her, merely a collection of exotic magazine photos and word-of-mouth mythology. Her parents risked their lives to travel to a place for a better future, so she herself took it a step further, to find an even better future for her unborn children. SHE was a brave harbinger. SHE, a foreigner and woman of her time, left her family, her culture, her language, her food, her identity that she had known up until that point in her life, left everything she knew and flew to New York City with a job placement gameplan that fell apart—no easy feat, to say the least.
Yet, SHE prevailed, became a celebrated neonatal ICU nurse at one of the top hospitals in the country. SHE saved sick pre-mature babies, children with congenital conditions. SHE held hands when new parents thought their children—the future of this world—would slip from their hands. SHE helped her parents and siblings and even husband (my awesome dad) make that immigrant march over to the US, where we all live, work, contribute to society and are responsible citizens.