By Mike Klein
Sunny Park knew what he wanted when he arrived from South Korea. “I came to the United States in 1974 to achieve my dream. My dream was and is clean more toilets. Americans eat a lot, they use the bathroom a lot and my business continues to grow.” Park earned $1.80 per hour in his first job, cleaning toilets.
Today his Atlanta-based General Building Maintenance firm cleans three million toilets and 470 million square feet of commercial space every night. Park pays more than $1 million in annual federal income tax.“This is a paradise,” he says.“I am Achiever of American Dream.”
Park no longer worries about money. He does worry whether America is going soft.
“Too many people are looking for free stuff,” Park told the Foundation’s 2014 Annual Dinner audience. “I don’t want any American (to) give up the pride of (being an) individual and start treating this country like renting. We need to treat this country as owner of this country.
“A lot of times, unfortunately, I am thinking this was land of opportunity and still is a land of opportunity, still the best country, best place on earth to make a quality life. However, would this country be seen same as today in 50 years, 100 years? Would millions of people in foreign countries want to come and live here? I hope so. A lot of times, I doubt. Hope I am wrong.”
Young Sunny was a student of American history growing up in South Korea. The lesson he took was that it is not what you do for yourself; it is what you do for someone else.
“Patrick Henry was not saying, give me liberty or give me death; he did not say that for himself. Abraham Lincoln didn’t say anything for himself. John F. Kennedy was not mentioning for himself. So my achievement in this country has to be the right thing for this country.
“Once I achieve (American Dream) what am I going to do with it? Am I going to eat four meals a day or wear two ties, three jackets? This country should be better than the day that I got here so I am leaving this podium, asking my friends, this country has got to wake up,” Park said,
“Forty percent of high school kids are dropping out. Is that your problem or somebody else(‘s) problem? We’re smart people. We can figure that out. High school dropout(s) is our problem, and your problem. We need to fix it. How (do) we fix it? We are smart enough people to find a solution. We cannot sit here and depend on government. Take action. God bless you all. God bless America.”
Here is the video of Park’s remarks at our 2014 Policy Foundation Annual Dinner.