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2011 Winner, Maya Young Wong

“My Grandfather Ben”
By Maya Young Wong
Castelar Elementary School
Altadena, California


From China sailed my Grandfather Ben.

He came to America when he was four plus ten.

His Guangzhou village was small and poor

And he helped his mother with farming chores.

Every morning he gathered bits of firewood

And drew water from the well as much as he could.

From morning to night he slaved like an ox.

But it was never enough to fill the rice box.

So his parents said, "You'd better leave home

And go to America where you can roam".

Until you find a great place of your own.

America, Gold Mountain, is the place to go

Big and wide, and high and low.

Everything is yes, and there are never any any.


But here in America life was hard

And it wasn't like a birthday card.

Golden Mountain didn't have jobs

For Chinese men, and that made them sob.

From San Francisco to Saint Louis

Chances for Chinese were least to fewest.

Still his heart never gave way

Cause he knew hard work always pays.

So Grandpa Ben worked hard again.

Slaving in a laundry from five to ten.

And he lived in important USA times

Starting from cool Jazz Age crime

Right on down to the Great Depression's

Brother can you spare a dime.

Until finally his big chance came

To show American Chinese are the same.

He joined the army in World War II

And fought in Europe for the red, white and blue.

All over he fought bringing supplies

To American soldiers on the lines.

Until one day he was shot in the back

And his jeep flipped over and he got smacked.

He didn't win any fame or medals

Just came back home to wed and settle.


Still to me he is The Greatest Hero.

Cause he never gave up and never said no.

He loved America both good and bad

And taught his 5 kids not to be sad.

Work hard, dream big, and never give up.

And one day Gold Mountain will live up

To what is written on the Statue of Liberty

Chances for all and the gift to be free.


To my Chinese Grandfather,

Whom I love and honor.