Two men were born on this date in history. Different roots and upbringings and different choices determined their legacies. One made a choice under stress that led to the ruin of lives and a black mark on history. The other made a choice that led to the saving of lives, and ultimate recognition of it.
Greek-American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter Ellia Kazan was born in 1909. He made great films but when he was awarded an honorary Oscar in 1999 many in the Academy did not attend and a crowd of 250 protestors were lined up outside the venue. Why? Because in the midst of hearings of the House UnAmerican Activities Committee, he named names. Many actors and producers were called before the committee and pressured to name names of colleagues in the film industry who were supposedly members of the communist party or had left-wing views and associations. Those who refused got banned and blackballed -their careers ruined by an unholy alliance between studio executives and right-wing politicians. This was part of the second red scare (the first was around the time of the Russian Revolution.) just after the end of WWII.
Eilia tried to explain away his collaboration by saying he had no choice However many others were faced with the same choices and resisted. Therefore his legacy is marred and his film work is largely forgotten.
In contrast, Daniel Inouye was born in 1924 the child of Japanese immigrants in Hawaii. He witnessed the attack on Pearl Harbor firsthand while a senior in high school. He could not enlist because of his ethnic background yet he volunteered for the Red Cross and aided victims of the attack. Later, when President FDR authorized a unit of Japanese Americans to fight he was finally accepted and was sent to fight in Italy. He sustained five separate wounds in one action, where he took out a machine gun nest -losing an arm in the process.
He had wanted to be a surgeon but the injuries prevented that. During recovery, he met future Senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole, who told him of his desire to go into politics – specifically the US Senate – and Inouye was inspired. He joined the territorial senate (Hawaii was a territory before it became a state in 1959), and later he too became a US Senator. Both men had received serious wounds in battle, both had one arm disabled (Dole’s was damaged, Inouye’s was amputated), but both served their country honorably in war and peace. Though they belonged to different political parties (Dole Republican, Inouye Democrat) and held opposing political views they remained friends and showed how there can be compromise for the greater good. Both are American heroes and should be role models for public servants today.