A Philadelphia city council member talked about his family’s legacy of forgiveness with Naval Support Activity Philadelphia employees during an Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month program May 25.
David Oh shared stories of his personal and family’s history, reflecting on this year’s national theme, “Walk Together, Embrace Differences, Build Legacies.”
“What legacy are we building, and are we thinking about building a legacy?” Oh posed. “I wasn’t thinking about building a legacy, but I think there is a legacy unbeknownst to me.”
Oh recounted details of his relatives’ migration to America from China and Japan, including their having fled their homeland, Korea, due to war.
He also told the story about his cousin, In Ho Oh, a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, when he was murdered by a group of teenage boys in 1958.
The council member then read the letter In Ho Oh’s parents wrote to the mayor of Philadelphia requesting leniency for the boys, and the Ohs intentions to start a fund to educate and rehabilitate the boys upon their release from prison. This gesture was based on the Oh’s religious beliefs.
“I did not cry when I read the letter as a young man, but I do now as a father of four [children],” Oh said. “There is a legacy that is not mine. It is this letter, it is my father’s, my uncles’, it is In Ho Oh. That legacy is a legacy of forgiveness.”
Audience members gave Oh a standing ovation at the conclusion of his presentation. NAVSUP Weapons Systems Support Vice Commander Lynn Kohl and Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support Commander Army Brig. Gen. Charles Hamilton also presented Oh with mementos of appreciation concluding the program.
“That was a powerful story and a powerful message,” Hamilton said. “We really appreciate you coming out, and we look forward to hearing from you again.”
Oh is an Army veteran and worked as a lawyer before being elected as to City Council At-Large in 2011. He’s currently serving his second term. He is he first Asian American to hold public office in Philadelphia and the only veteran serving in city council now.
The program was sponsored by the DLA Troop Support Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity Office and the NAVSUP Weapons Systems Support Employment Opportunity Advisory Committee.