It was my thirteenth birthday, and my father came to my room that day with a unique gift. I did not realize it until much later that a responsibility had been handed to me that early spring day. I was receiving a piece of history that was rare and compelling.

I was sitting in my room in our house in the Round Hill section of Greenwich when Dad strode in with a Japanese samurai sword he brought back from China, a symbol of his service in the Marine Corps during and after World War II.

“This is yours now,” I recall him saying as he presented it to me. He told me a few stories about being stationed in northeastern China, specifically Beijing and Tianjin with the 1st Marine Division. We gazed together at photo albums and books and were transported to a time and place far, far away

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