“All this you have done, but this is not enough. More is expected of you.”
Domingo Los Baños was born on the plantations of Kalaheo, Hawai’i on September 23, 1925. He worked the plantations with his father and as a child he bore witness to discrimination his father and the other workers faced. He saw his father fight for better working conditions, and even though the planters tried to keep the diverse ethnicities apart in the fields, Domingo made friends across the divide. At his school, children from all backgrounds, Korean, Filipino, Chinese, Portuguese, found that they suffered the same struggle for equality. This knowledge brought them together rather than separating them as the planter’s wished. ‘Divide and conquer, you know?’
The National Constitution Center had the great honor (and true pleasure) of meeting Domingo during the opening week of the Fighting for Democracy exhibition. He is the only one of the seven individuals featured in the exhibit still alive today, being only 18 years old when he enlisted near the end of the War. He regaled us with so many wonderful stories (and songs!) about his life and his experiences both before and after WWII.
Domingo was 16 years old when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. During his time with us he spoke about the fear of that day, about not knowing if more attacks were coming or what the following days would bring. He connected that moment to another turning point in his life, just days before America would drop the first atomic bomb, when on a scouting mission his gun fired killing an enemy soldier.
That experience stayed with Domingo, it made him think about being back on the plantations where it didn’t matter where you were from. It would inspire him to spend his life teaching lessons about tolerance to children around the world.His passion for education and understanding led him to Thailand where he taught the royal children and then back to Hawai’i where he worked to better his own community. His dedication to the education of children drove him to achieve. He served as an educator for more than 30 years, and continues today, at 86 years of age, to teach, to guide, and to inspire.
This interview with Domingo is the third in an ongoing video interview series for Fighting for Democracy: Who is the “We” in “We the People”?
[vimeo 31943208 450 300]
Fighting for Democracy is presented by the National Constitution Center in partnership with the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy, an educational program of the Japanese American National Museum, and is funded in part by the U.S. Army Center of Military History. The traveling exhibition has been made possible through the support of The Boeing Company. The National Constitution Center also thanks the following for generous support: The CHG Charitable Trust, Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation, Dorrance H. Hamilton, William M. King Charitable Foundation, Macy's, National Endowment for the Arts, The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage through the Heritage Philadelphia Program, Team Clean Inc., Verizon Foundation, Wyncote Foundation.