From the Gila Relocation Camp in Arizona, where he and his family lived during World War II, to pulpits in churches across Hawaii, the Rev. Paul S. Osumi cheered successive generations with his enlightening, inspirational speeches.
For more than 35 years, Osumi inspired readers of The Honolulu Advertiser and other newspapers with his daily column, “Today’s Thought.” In homes and businesses across the islands, copies of his simple aphorisms were clipped and saved, tacked to bulletin boards, stuck to refrigerator doors and carried in wallets.
Now, in “Today’s Thought: the Man and His Message,” a decade-long labor of love by his son, Norman H. Osumi, we get to learn the story of the man behind these treasured messages. And the younger Osumi has included hundreds of his father’s favorite “Thoughts.”
“Today’s Thought” also features many of the inspirational speeches delivered by the senior Osumi during his tenure at churches in Arizona and on Kauai, the Big Island and Oahu. Photographs and letters from Osumi’s personal collection add depth and intimate dimension to this profile of a quiet man who influenced so many. Over the years, the pastor’s “Thoughts” resonated with people of all faiths and even those with no religious affiliation, speaking to his universal message of leading a positive, meaningful life.
After his dad’s death in 1996, Norman Osumi received many inquiries about publishing a new collection of “Today’s Thoughts.” Because three small volumes had already been published by the minister himself (one in 1966 and two in the ’90s), his son felt that any new collection ”would need something more.” Thus began a decade-long project to research his father’s life, with the goal of including a biography to add context to a new collection of “Thoughts.”
Researching the book was a revealing experience for the younger Osumi.
“I started reading his journals, as well as letters he wrote and received from my mother, military authorities, Christian leaders, friends and church members. The more I read, the more interested I became in my father’s past, which he rarely talked about,” said the author. “He almost never mentioned the war years, when he was interned and encountered many disappointments and much hardship and disgrace. Many people told me it was common for the older generation, especially fathers, not to tell their children about their lives.”
Among the documents in the pastor’s files — and included in “Today’s Thought” — were his correspondence with numerous officials as he attempted to clear his name and obtain his release from internment, and a letter from The White House, issued subsequent to the 1988 Civil Liberties Act and signed by President George Bush, acknowledging the unjust treatment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
Born in Lihue, Kauai, the younger Osumi, now a retired banker, grew up on the Waialua and Ewa Plantations. He is the father of two children and resides in Honolulu with his wife, Carolyn.
“My father’s words had a impact on my life, and on so many others’, too. People needed guidance in their lives and he tried to provide that. Many of his pieces were about life in general. You may say what he wrote is merely ‘common sense,’ but until people read the messages, they don’t internalize the lessons. Father’s daily sayings gave people in Hawaii a set of values for living happy and meaningful lives,” said the son.
Plans are for the book, published by Legacy Isle Publishing, to be sold for $17.95 in various bookstores and retail outlets, but details are not yet available for Big Island stores. In the meantime, if you’d like to purchase an advance copy of the book, here’s how to do it: Send a check or money order for $17, which includes tax and shipping to U.S. addresses, to “Today’s Thought” at 3402 Kahawalu Drive, Honolulu, HI 96817. As a special treat, each book will be signed by the author and wrapped in Christmas paper.