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Anthony Marr: My Gratitudes | #1: To My Parents

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A Series, By Anthony Marr

Gratitude #1 – to my parents

It is the time of the season to express gratitude, and I have much gratitude to express. In my life, and especially the last 15 years of activism, I have received many a wonderful gift, given in many a wonderful way, from many a wonderful giver.

Over the years, I have given public thanks whenever the spirit moves me, but mostly en mass, to all, impersonal and distant. The time has come for me to thank my benefactors personally, one by one, and I will do so daily, and chronologically.

I have looked forward way past death, and back at the meaningful moments of this my wonderful, remarkable and amazing lifetime on this wonderful, remarkable and amazing planet Earth. From what I can see in both directions, I feel truly blessed.

Okay, without further ado, here goes:


The first people I would like to thank are my parents – my father Ma Wung-Sui (“Great Emotion”, 1913-2000) and my mother Ho Deeb-Tsui (Butterfly Green, 1919-2008). Their gifts to me are life and education. Their way of giving is self sacrifice. Christmas means family, and this filial beginning is amazingly appropriate.

My ancestry was supposed to be northern Chinese, though I was born in Guang Dong, the southernmost province of China. The reason was that when Genghis Khan invaded China, destroyed the Sung Dynasty (960-1279) and established the Yuan Dynasty ( 1279-1368), the most enterprising of the northern Han Chinese moved south to continue the resistance. After the Yuan Dynasty had been terminated by the succeeding Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the northern Chinese who traveled south had taken root, and were there to stay.

Both sides of my family were accomplished. My father’s line was urban and law oriented. My father had a degree in law, a rarity of the time, which placed him high in the Nationalist government hierarchy. My mother’s line was rural. Her father owned a small bank, and her mother’s was an aquaculture business complete with irrigated fields and motorized junks. I was born in 1944, the first male child of the family, and heir-apparent to inherit all these substantial and profitable edifices.


In 1937, Japan invaded China with unspeakable cruelty. My mother was almost captured as a “comfort woman” – basically a disposable sex slave for Japanese soldiers. Had she not escaped that horrendous fate, I would not be here to write about it.


In 1949, the Communists took over China. Due to my father’s political position, my entire family was slated for extermination, even 5 year-old me would be shot to forestall any possible vengeance. My family escaped down the Pearl River under the cover of darkness by means of one of my maternal grandmother’s motorized junks. There too, if they were caught, there would be no prisoners. But they made it to their British Crown Colony of Hong Kong not far from the mouth of the Pearl River.

Due to the volume of refugees influx, residential space was at a premium. All we could find was a 3 bedroom suit on the fourth floor of a decrepit wood-frame row-building for our 15 member extended family. Since most of their wealth was in real estate, and since they couldn’t take it with them, the prince became a pauper overnight.

My father, though highly capable and experienced, was illiterate in English – the official language of Hong Kong – which doomed him to a job unworthy of his education. So, he poured all his aspirations into his three children. He had wanted to start his own business, but he did not want to take a chance to imperil our education. He kept his 24/7/362 job and slaved away. It was not until I had entered university before he and my mother started their own company, and they were successful.

Here is a toast to you, Mom and Dad, wherever you are.

Anthony Marr, Founder and President,
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC)

Also by Anthony Marr …

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