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My father gave his life protecting what was his

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I was very hesitant and scared at the same time to share the story of my father to the community. Last Saturday on October 1st, 2022, my father confronted two shoplifters who was trying to steal from his store and ended up be meeting a tragic end. He was stabbed by one of the shoplifter’s multiple times and was pronounced dead on the scene. My father Tommy has been operating his hair product business in downtown for nearly 20 years. Over the past five years, my father has been in multiple incidents like this, confronting shoplifters and getting beat with a golf club, getting beat by multiple men breaking his nose and fracturing his arm. Every time he would come back home with injuries like this, I would tell him, “Just give it to them, it’s too dangerous,” but not once did he listen. This has infuriated me very much in the past, but after Tommy had passed away, I got to speak with one of his neighbor store owners. She told me, “Tommy wasn’t fighting for himself, he was protecting all the small business owner there. Because if you just let them steal easily, they are going to keep coming back. He was more like a brave heroic figure to us.” After hearing this, aside from anger, I am proud of my father and his bravery. After my father’s passing, I got to visit his work place for the first time, every one of his neighbor store owners, landlords, friends, came to me with welcoming arms as if they had seen me their whole life. It was my first-time meeting most of those people, but they knew everything about me. They told me my father would never stop talking about me. My father loved me more than anything, and this gave me mixed feeling of joy and sadness.
It is deeply saddening for me that my father is now gone, but as his only daughter, and the only remaining family member he has here in the United States, I know it is my duty to send him in peace. I am planning to hold two funeral services for my father, one here in the United States, and one back in his hometown in South Korea. My father always mentioned that if he were to pass away, he wanted his ashes to be laid next to his father’s grave. That is exactly what I am planning to do. Physically I am now here alone in the United States, but I know my father will guide me for the rest of my life with his bravery and love. I know I am not alone. I wanted to share my story with the community, anything would be a huge support for me during these hard times. I would like to thank all of you guys for sharing your time to read my story.

사랑하는 우리 아빠, 지금이라도 집문을 열고 공주하고 나를 부르면서 들어올거같고 전화를 걸면 사랑하는 우리딸하며 전화를 받을거같은데 아빠가 이 세상에 없다는 그 사실이 현실이 아닌거 같아 평소처럼 일상생활을 하다가도 문득 생각이나 눈물이 앞을 가린다. 나에게 더 나은 세상, 더 좋은 환경을 만들어주려고 아는 사람도 가족도 친척도 아무도 없는 이 머나먼 땅에 혼자서 얼마나 열심히 살아 왓는지 잘 알아. 내가 미국에와서 아빠랑 같이 산 지난 7년이 나에게도 아빠한테도 선물같은 시간이엇으면 좋겠다. 지난해에 가게에 강도가 들엇다고 아빠가 맞서 싸우다가 다쳣다고 햇을때 내가 놀라서 울면서 말렷던거 기억나? 이번에 소식 듣고 그게 뭐 그리 중요하다고 목숨을 걸엇나 원망안햇다면 거짓말이겟지. 근데 아빠 가게에 갓더니 이웃들이 울면서 나한테 말해주더라 너희 아버지는 우리 모두를 걱정해서 그러신거라고, 자기라도 이렇게 하지않으면 이런 범죄가 계속 늘어날까봐 그걸 막기위해서, 아빤 우리한텐 영웅이라고. 맞아 아빠는 올바른 일을 한거고 사람들은 그걸 기억해줄거야.
아빠, 더 자주보고 사랑한다고 많이 말해줄걸 하는 후회는 하지 않을게. 아빠가 날 얼마나 많이 사랑햇고 나는 또 얼마나 아빠를 사랑햇는지 주변사람들 모두가 다아니까 행복한 기억만으로 보내줄게. 많이 보고싶다 사랑해

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Chaerin Lee
Los Angeles, CA

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