Memorial Day is a very nostalgic, solemn day for me.
America is a nation of immigrants, and most of us can trace our roots to some place other than the US. For many Americans, this means European ancestry.
I can’t claim any lineage to any passengers on the Mayflower, nor did any of my ancestors cross the vast prairies of the Midwest in covered wagons. Like yours, however, my ancestors came to America in search of a better life.
My grandfather, Fusakichi Sagami, was from Hiroshima, Japan. He traveled across the Pacific Ocean in 1893 as a kitchen helper on an American sail-powered freighter. He continued to work in galleys on any ship that would hire him, including a short stint on the naval schooner USS Augusta.
He married Mitsu, a picture bride, in 1906, started a small vegetable farm in western Washington, and produced 10 children—including my father, Ken.
Fusakichi, Mitsu, and their 10 children were among the 110,000 American citizens of Japanese ancestry held in the World War II internment camps, and despite being unjustly imprisoned and stripped of his land, Fusakichi believed so strongly in America that he ordered all his sons to volunteer for the US Army.
“You may very well die, but you MUST do this to prove that we are loyal to America,” he told his eight sons from behind the barbed wired walls of the Minidoka War Relocation Center in Idaho.
Six of the eight Sagami boys volunteered and joined the US Army, and all of them fought in the highly decorated 442nd Infantry Regiment. One of them, my Uncle Yohei, died in France and was posthumously awarded a Silver Star and Bronze Star.
Family friends tell me that my grandmother was never the same after Yohei died. She wore his dog tags around her neck and rubbed the metal completely smooth over the next 50 years of her life. It was almost like she was self-medicating the hole that was in her heart.
“And they who for their country die shall fill an honored grave, for glory lights the soldier’s tomb, and beauty weeps the brave.”
Stand for Uncle Sam
My father ferociously worshiped four things: Jesus, my mother, hard work, and the United States of America. He was so fiercely patriotic, my grandfather and I believe the biggest disappointment I ever caused him was my failure to serve our country.
I turned 18 during the tail end of the Vietnam War, and my father pushed me to go the ROTC route for college. I reluctantly signed up for Navy ROTC and received an appointment, but I dropped out of the program eight days before the start of my freshman year… succumbing to the tears of a long-gone high school girlfriend.
My quitting ROTC disappointed him so badly that he didn’t talk to me until Christmas of that year. Of course he loved me, but I’m not sure he ever fully forgave me.
So what’s this got to do with investing?
My father died in 2009 at 93 years old, but I know he would be disgusted at the government for snooping into our phone calls and e-mails, IRS abuse of power, and other intrusions on the freedoms that the Sagami boys fought for in World War II.
Strong feelings translate into opportunities for businesses. Some companies are now looking at ways to help those of us who don’t want the government sticking its nose into our lives (especially, our electronic lives).
Remember, people won’t use technology they don’t trust. Companies like Google (GOOG) , Facebook (FB) , Apple (AAPL) , Yahoo! (YHOO) and Twitter (TWTR) have already admitted giving the government access to our personal information, and that taints my view of them.
Here are five companies that make it their business to protect private information from prying eyes:
Barracuda Networks, Inc. (CUDA)
Fortinet Inc. (FTNT)
Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (CHKP)
Palo Alto Networks, Inc. (PANW)
CyberArk Software, Ltd. (CYBR)
Currently all five provide Internet security solutions to corporations, instead of individuals, but they are experiencing very rapid growth.
One private company Wickr should go public in the near future with fantastic potential. Wickr uses military-grade encryption technology to send texts, photos, and videos between users. Plus, Wickr, itself, has zero access to any messages, so it can’t give the government access—even if ordered to do so.
Of course, timing is everything, so you should wait for my buy signal before you jump into any stock… but personal privacy and online security are going to be one of the biggest, most profitable businesses going forward, and you should look for ways to get them in your portfolio.
Memorial Day was originally known as “Decoration Day” and was created in 1868 to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died during the Civil War.
Today, it honors all the American servicemen and servicewomen who sacrificed their lives for our country, but sadly, the true meaning of Memorial Day has gradually been lost to many.
For many, Memorial Day has become an extra day off from work that includes barbecue hamburgers and baseball, instead of a solemn day to reflect and remember the brave men and women who gave their lives for America’s values and freedom.
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. The only way they can inherit the freedom we have known is if we fight for it, protect it, defend it and then hand it to them with the well thought lessons of how they in their lifetime must do the same.”
Freedoms, including the right to privacy, are what my Uncle Yohei and thousands of other American soldiers fought for, and I hope that all of us take a moment to remember those fallen veterans.
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