It’s an underdog story. It’s an American story. It’s a story that illustrates to us that if we work hard, dreams can come true. Unfortunately, the story has an unfortunate footnote.
Cy Sun, 81, is an Asian American veteran with a Purple Heart and a Croix de Guerre. He served during the Korean War before coming back to the United States to settle in Oregon as a farmer. After years of hard, physical work, Sun decided to settle in the small city of Pacific, adjacent to Auburn, in his retirement.
In Pacific, he observed corruption in the city government. He thought it was wrong.
So each day, he walked the two-and-a-half square miles of Pacific, knocking on the doors of his neighbors. It was too late to get his name on the ballot for the November election, but he was determined. Even if it was unlikely, he felt it was possible.
Many of Sun’s neighbors believed in him. When they got their ballots, they wrote his name down on a blank line.
The incumbent mayor was Richard Hildreth. And in November, he lost to Sun by only about 70 votes. It was an amazing feat. No one in the history of Pacific had won by write-in.
Hildreth claimed Sun got the edge by spreading misinformation and deceiving citizens. In his blog, Hildreth wrote, “It is a result that I pray does not come back to haunt the citizens of this great city.”
It was a sign of things to come for Sun.
Negativity continued following him, in the form of city councilmember Gary Hulsey, who accused Sun of lying about his war medals. Hulsey said Sun violated the Stolen Valor Act.
Husley reported Sun to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
On Feb. 23, Sun stood before his constituents and displayed his medals. “I am not a liar,” he said.
The Auburn Reporter obtained documents that confirmed that Sun did earn the medals he claimed.
While he publicly accused of Sun of falsifying his record, Hulsey never publicly offered Sun an apology. Publicly, Husley merely said that it was time to drop the matter and move on.
During the public meeting where Sun displayed his medals to the citizens of Pacific, he talked with emotion about how he had kept his accolades in a cardboard box. He never flaunted them because he said he didn’t believe the medals belonged to him. Rather, they belonged to his comrades who died in combat.
His experience during the Korean War is obviously deeply personal to him. His wife, Barbara, told the Auburn Reporter that there were things that Sun didn’t even reveal to her because they had been so painful to him. He wanted to keep parts of his past private.
To have his record challenged in such a public and insensitive way is a travesty. We hope that Hulsey is ashamed of his actions. Let’s hope that we learn a lesson from this — that we will all think twice before we accuse others of lying. Another important lesson to be gleaned from this is that when we make mistakes, it’s extremely important to own up to them.
We wish Mayor Sun the best of luck in office. (end)