Every Day Is a Holiday

prisoner-of-war


by Joseph Loong

(Part of a series of posts that will culminate on Father’s Day, highlighting why our dad, Paul Loong, is the Most Interesting Dad in the World.)

An iconic photo of the D-Day landings. US Govt photo.

Many people during World War II found out about the D-Day invasion that same day, June 6, 1944. For my Dad, it took a little longer, with a lot more risk. Here’s how it happened:

A few days after the Allies landed at Normandy, the POWs at Mitsushima, Japan were walking back to the prison camp, under guard, from the hydroelectric facility where they were being forced to work under harsh conditions.

One of the prisoners found a scrap of Japanese newspaper, featuring a story with a map of the European coast. Risking beheading if caught, he hid the newspaper and smuggled it back into the camp.

There, another prisoner who could read Chinese figured out from the characters (the Japanese written language uses Chinese characters) that the story was about the successful Normandy invasion.

According to Dad, while Japanese reporting of the Pacific War told of nothing except continuous Japanese victories, their coverage of the European theater of war was more truthful.

The newspaper was quickly destroyed to prevent the Japanese guards from discovering it, but Dad says the news “spread like wildfire” among the prisoners, who were starved of both food and information.

Much like the newspaper article, the June 1944 entries from my dad’s secret wartime diary didn’t survive to our time, but he remembers the story clearly, which gave all the prisoners a measure of hope that the Allies were winning the war.

And that’s how he learned about the successful D-Day invasion.

Growing up in suburban New Jersey, I knew little about my father’s past. Then, one day, I discovered his secret diary, written during WWII…

Every Day Is a Holiday tells the inspirational story of how my dad, Paul Loong, survived a POW camp in Japan and set out on an unlikely journey to become a citizen of the country that liberated him:  the United States.  

Every Day Is a Holiday is heading to the Montclair Film Festival!

Please join me and my dad and come see the film on the big screen:
Montclair Film Festival
Clairidge Cinema 1
Saturday, 5/4 11:15am
486 Bloomfield Ave
‪Montclair, NJ 07042‬
To order tickets online, visit http://bit.ly/everydayfilm

For more information about the film, including how to purchase a DVD for educational or home viewing, please sign up for our mailing list

Dr. Paul Loong, WWII POW, Korean War veteran, doctor and subject of documentary ‘Every Day Is a Holiday,’ will give a live talk after a screening at the Montclair Film Festival’s spotlight on New Jersey films.

Contact: Theresa Loong
Tel: 718-496-4964
e-mail: Theresa@everydayisaholiday.org

How does a Malaysian-born RAF veteran get from prisoner-of-war camps in Japan to the NJ suburbs?

On May 4th, at the Montclair Film Festival, Dr. Paul Loong will answer that question, which involves oil tankers; arbitrary immigration bureaucrats; the US Army in the Korean War; a compassionate Congressman; Italian medical school; and the East Orange VA hospital.

Documentary filmmaker Theresa Loong was able to gradually pry the full story from Dr. Loong, her father, after discovering the wartime diary he’d kept secret — first from his Japanese captors, then his family — for over 60 years.

Ms. Loong’s questions grew into the documentary “Every Day Is a Holiday,” a title taken from a diary entry during a bleak time in Dr. Loong’s imprisonment, where he swore that if he survived as a free man,
“Every day would be a holiday.”

The film, previously broadcast on over 200 PBS stations, traces Dr. Loong’s journey through visits to former POW camps in Japan, wartime artifacts, archival documents, and interviews. It is featured in the Montclair Film Festival’s spotlight on movies featuring NJ filmmakers and subjects.

Dr. Loong, director Theresa Loong, executive producer Bill Einreinhofer and editor Kristen Nutile will comment on the film and answer audience questions after a screening of ‘Every Day Is a Holiday’ May 4, 11:15 am at the Clairidge Cinema, 486 Bloomfield Ave., Montclair, NJ., Tickets can be purchased through the Montclair Film Festival.

Director Theresa Loong is an award-winning multimedia multimedia director and producer, and founder of the interactive production company, FORM360, which provides editorial and strategic consulting services. For further information about ‘Every Day Is a Holiday,’  including information about the DVD, visit http://www.everydayisaholiday.org.

Download PDF for Every Day Is a Holiday Montclair Press Release here

While growing up in suburban New Jersey, Chinese-American filmmaker Theresa Loong knew little about her father’s past. Then, one day she discovered his secret diary, written when he was a teenager and POW in a Japanese work camp during World War II. In it, he vowed to make “every day a holiday” if he ever survived. Told through her eyes, EVERY DAY IS A HOLIDAY tells the painful but life-affirming story of her father’s unlikely journey, from Chinese Malay teenager and Japanese POW, to merchant seaman, Veterans Affairs doctor and naturalized citizen of the country that liberated him: the United States. Using intimate conversations, rare archival footage and his wartime diary, the film traces how, through sheer strength of will, Paul Loong overcomes the horrors of war and obstacles as an immigrant, making “every day a holiday”.