Memorial Day: Not Just Another Day Off

Friday, May 22, 2020

“And they who for their country die shall fill an honored grave, for glory lights the soldier’s tomb, and beauty weeps the brave.”

—Joseph Drake

What do you have planned for the three-day Memorial Day weekend? Drive down to the beach, enjoy a meal with your family, or watch some TV?

Whatever your plans, I hope you enjoy yourself, but I hope you take a few moments to reflect on the true meaning of Memorial Day.

Memorial Day, originally known as “Decoration Day,” was created in 1868 in order to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers that died during the Civil War.

In the time since, it has expanded to honor all the American servicemen and servicewomen who sacrificed their lives for our country. But today, the true meaning of Memorial Day has gradually been overlooked.

For many, Memorial Day has become an extra day off from work that includes barbecues, beer 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.

For me, however, Memorial Day remains a nostalgic, solemn day.

As some of you may know, 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 in search of a better life … in search of the American Dream.

He continued to work in kitchens on any ship that would hire him, including a short stint on the naval schooner USS Augustus.

In 1906, he married Mitsue who was a picture bride and started a small vegetable farm in western Washington. They would go on to have 10 children, including my father, Ken.

Fusakichi, Mitsue and their 10 children were among the 110,000 American citizens of Japanese ancestry held in the World War II internment camps. 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 U.S. Army.

“You may die, but you must do this to prove that we are loyal to America,” he told his eight sons from behind the barbed-wire walls of the Minidoka War Relocation Center in Idaho.

Six of the eight Sagami boys joined the U.S. Army, all serving in the highly decorated 442nd Infantry Regiment.

My family was fortunate. Only one of those Sagami boys, Yohei Sagami, was killed.

He died in France in 1944.

Another soldier saw Yohei killed and described it for posterity.

So artillery shells, now I hear this one coming in, boom. That was incoming. I found out what incoming was.

So when that came in, blew me up and I was over there, 10 feet, and ached all over, and got up, sores all, looked, and I got a nick here.

But I looked down, Yohei Sagami from Wenatchee, Wash., was talking; we were talking what are we going to do when we get out and this and that.

He’s laying down, facedown, I picked him up, turned him over, he got hit …  Medics came, but he died, he’d lost too much blood, he died.

So that was my, one of my first buddy dying.

Yohei Sagami was posthumously awarded a Silver Star and Bronze Star. He was 22 years old, never married and had no children.

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 his death left in her heart.

Stand for Uncle Sam

Yohei is buried in Tacoma, Wash., next to my grandparents and about 100 feet away from my father and mother.

I never meet my Uncle Yohei, but our family continues to honor his service and sacrifice every Memorial Day.

So, what’s this got to do with investing? More than you may think. It’s about the reason my family fought. It’s about preserving the freedom and individual rights that we have here in the United States.

My father died in 2008 at 93 years of age and I know he would be disgusted at the government snooping on our phone calls and emails, the IRS’s abuse of power, the FBI spying on political candidates and other intrusions on the freedom that the Sagami boys fought for in World War II.

Strong feelings mean opportunity for companies focused on helping people who don’t want the government sticking its nose into our lives — especially our electronic lives.

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.

There are dozens of cybersecurity stocks to consider, such as CloudFare, Inc. (NYSE: NET, Rated “D”), Proofpoint (Nasdaq: PFPT, Rated “D”), FireEye (Nasdaq: FEYE, Rated “D”), Fortinet (Nasdaq: FTNT, Rated”C+”), Check Point Software Technologies (Nasdaq: CHKP, Rated “U”) and Palo Alto Networks (NYSE: PANW, Rated “D”).

If you’re more of an ETF investor, take a look at iShares Cybersecurity and Tech (NYSE: IHAK, Rated “U”) and ETFMG Prime Cyber Security (NYSE: HACK, Rated “C”).

Of course, timing is everything, so due diligence is needed when planning your attack. But you’d do yourself a disservice to ignore the growing demand for services provided by companies like these.

Freedoms, including the right to privacy, are what my Uncle Yohei and hundreds of thousands of other American soldiers fought for. I hope that all of us can take a minute out of our holiday to remember those fallen veterans and keep the values they fought for in our hearts as well.

Best wishes,

Tony Sagami

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