"Work of Giants" - Connecting to Your Past to Understand the Power and Responsibility of the Present by Russell N, Low, MD
Russell Low’s family story is intertwined with the history of the American West. It begins with the building of the transcontinental railroad, a project only made possible by the heroic actions of 12,000 Chinese men, including Low’s great grandfather, Hung Lai Wah and his brother Jick Wah. Their story recreates the hardships of building the railroad through the mountains, the bitter cold winters, and the blasting accident in the Great Summit Tunnel that claimed Jick Wah’s right eye.
The heroic role of the early Chinese women is often overlooked. Yet, these courageous women who came to America under the worst of circumstances, became the foundation of early Chinese American society. They were bold and courageous, and above all else, they knew how to survive.
Ah Ying, a nine-year-old child slave girl, was sold by her family and brought to America in the hold of a ship in 1880. Her defiant survival changed her life and the world around her. She refused to be held down by slave owners, missionaries, or the Chinese thugs who kidnapped her. Against great odds she survived, found romance with Lai Wah the railroad worker, and started a family that to this day continues to shape the world.
These stories of courage and perseverance belong to all Americans because ultimately, we are all descendants of bold ancestors who faced uncertainty and hardship and decided that America held a better future for them and their children. These stories should be preserved, cherished, and retold to pay tribute to those who sacrificed so that we could become Americans.
There is a Chinese proverb that states; "When drinking water think of is source so you do not forget its origin." In other words, know where you come from as an individual, a community, and nation.
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