It Takes Wisdom to See the Good
Bob Sakata is one of America’s biggest vegetable growers. His farm in Brighton, Colorado, produces corn, onions, and sugarbeets. In 1999, he was inducted into the Agriculture Hall of Fame.
This video was made possible by the Center for Faith & Work at LeTourneau University and produced by Small Business School.
HATTIE (Voiceover): Bob's life hasn't been easy. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Bob was 15 and was placed in a relocation camp in Colorado.
BOB: On December the 7th, 1941, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt had the great description, 'The Day of Infamy,' when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, that was an embarrassing time for all of us.
Because of public pressure and, at that time, because of the safety of our welfare is what the government said, they put us all into what they called relocation camps. But it was not a relocation camp. It was a concentration camp, with four sentries standing on the corner. I was able to get a citizen's endorsement and I left early. But my family stayed in the camp till the camp closed in 1945. And I went to school here in Brighton and graduated from Brighton High School in 1943.
But looking at the history of what we went through, much could be said about it. But my father told us, that, 'You behave and you do what the government tells you to do and you prove that you could be worthy of being an American citizen.' And I thought that was a great wisdom. So today I would describe that total experience as a blessing in disguise because from every hardship, you learn, from every challenge, you learn, you know?
HATTIE: You had a couple of other huge challenges, crises, that were defining moments.
BOB: Oh, yes.
HATTIE: What happened with your leg?
BOB: Right here in this big barn, that was my shop, and I worked in there till past midnight and I wanted to get the job done early. And I got in there about 5:30 in the morning and no sooner than I lit the acetylene torch, we had an explosion. There was an empty gas barrel close by that took all the explosive fumes when I was working the night before. And 66 percent of my body was burned third degree. They had covered me with a white sheet when I got to the hospital.
HATTIE: Because they thought you were dead?
BOB: Yes. Until my family doctor came there and he just chewed everybody out and said, 'You don't know this guy and to take him to surgery quick.' I remember going to surgery and the doctors all said, 'This guy can't feel a thing. We don't have to put him to sleep.' And they were tearing my coveralls off and pruning out all the burnt skin. And one of the nurses said, 'He's feeling everything you're doing.' And the doctor asked her, 'How do you know?' I was holding her hand and she said, 'He's about ready to break my wrist.' But that's when I learned that there is an Almighty.
HATTIE: So you were in the hospital a year?
BOB: Yes. A little over a year. And they were sure that I would never walk again. And so I thanked them for that and I thanked them for their work, but I told the doctors, I said, 'Why don't you let me and my God figure out whether I can walk again, but you do what you can.' And here I am.