All posts by dukeomara2017

Pearl Harbor and the Enduring Legacy of War

By Duke Omara

Seventy-five years ago, on Dec. 7, 1941, a Japanese strike force consisting of six aircraft carriers descended on the territory of Hawaii and unleashed a ferocious aerial raid on the American naval base of Pearl Harbor on Oahu Island.

Less than two hours after the first Japanese aircraft appeared over the horizon, the attack was over and the United States had paid a fearful price. 2,403 Americans, including civilians, were dead. Numerous ships were either sunk or damaged while Japanese losses were much less considerable.

The assault took the United States completely by surprise. The country – in the days leading up to the attack – had been engaged in negotiations with the Empire of Japan to forge a path towards a comprehensive peaceful agreement covering the Pacific region. Continue reading

Hiding in plain sight: Chicago neighborhoods fight modern day slavery

By Duke Omara

In the grand scheme of things, it was a small victory but for impoverished neighborhoods like Chicago’s Englewood, it was a triumph.

After a protracted and sometimes acrimonious City Council battle in March, a bill to allow city strip clubs to sell liquor on their premises was shelved after its sponsor admitted she wasn’t fully aware of the bill’s contents. Continue reading

Hmong Community Struggles to Face Future Without Losing Sight of Past

By Duke Omara

WASAU, Wis. – Fifteen-year old Dylan Yang had stabbed and killed 13-year-old Isaiah Powell after the two became involved in a Facebook feud.

But what seemed like a teenage gang killing last February struck some as being symbolic of something much more malignant.

Dylan belongs to the Hmong, a community of war refugees and their descendants who relocated to the United States from Laos at the end of the Vietnam War. Isaiah was Hispanic.

And as the murder trial evolved, it exposed a community with many concerns, among them rampant illegal drug use, a festering mental health problem, and a sense of isolation that is fed by a deep reluctance to air community and private woes. Continue reading

Explainer: How Hillary won the popular vote but lost the election

By Duke Omara

In almost any other democracy, Hillary Clinton would be president today. She won the popular vote but still lost the election. So what happened?

The Electoral College happened. Continue reading

Kirk makes hard push for finish line in Chicago

By Duke Omara

In his final night of campaigning, U.S. Sen.  Mark Kirk (R-IL) met with a  group of Chicago area Asian-American leaders Monday and asked  them to return him  to Washington so he can continue championing the causes that propelled him to victory six years ago.

“With just 24 hours to go, we can say we have a chance to send the most moderate, independent voices to represent the state of Illinois in the Senate,” said Kirk.

Kirk said the state’s economic future would be “written” in Asia, which he said had two-thirds of the world’s GDP. “We need somebody that represents us here in Illinois and has the broad base of experience to represent the international world class city that I feel we have here,” he said. Continue reading

U.S. role on global stage bigger and stronger than ever, Kerry says in Chicago

By Duke Omara

Secretary of State John Kerry, in what will likely be one of his last major speeches as the nation’s chief diplomat, has dismissed criticism that America’s global role is diminishing, and that the country was disengaging from the rest of the world.

“The United States today is more deeply engaged, in more places, simultaneously, on more critical issues, with greater consequence than ever before,” Kerry said. Continue reading

New citizens welcomed in spooktacular ceremony

By Duke Omara

Asonme Fozong bubbled with anticipation for the day she has long looked forward to.

The 15-year-old, who was born in Cameroon, was about to become a U.S. citizen, although she has always felt like one since moving to the U.S. a decade ago.

“It makes me feel real free and it gives me more opportunities,” said Fozong, who was accompanied by family members.

The biggest decision of the day was deciding what costume to wear to the ceremony, but in the end she chose just to go as herself.

Indeed, naturalization ceremonies are usually somber, surreal: a time to reflect on a past life while contemplating the start of a new one as an American citizen.

Yet that changed, for a day at least, when 57 costumed children representing 22 countries took their oaths of allegiance to the United States at a Halloween-themed event that was held Tuesday at the US Custom and Immigration Service (USCIS) offices, in Chicago. Continue reading

Female vets protest differences in care

By Fariba Pajooh and Duke Omara

Synolve Netterville was idealistic, motivated and ready to serve her country. Joining the military at 24-years-old fulfilled a carefully thought-out plan. She had imagined retiring from the US Air Force and looking back proudly at years of service.

All that changed the night she was raped.

Continue reading