by Nozomi Kuwashiro, 9th Grade
Ijuinkita Junior High School, Kagoshima Prefecture
Messages of Peace from Chiran
13th Annual Speech Contest, 2002
Second Prize, Junior High School Division
Even now, one old photo is still etched deep in my heart. It was a faded
grayish-brown photo that I found when looking at an old album of my
grandmother's family. Only one thing, if it just did not say
"battlefront," the place where that photo was taken.
It is not
that this photo showed dangerous weapons and wounded people. It only showed
three men lined up in military uniforms. However, when I noticed the words
"at the battlefront" written in small letters, I felt scared. One of
the three is my great-grandfather. The three appear to have calm appearances
and expressions as if nothing is happening. I felt shocked by that. As for the
reason, please try to imagine. The feelings of humans who will face war.
Despite the war, why would they be so calm?
The one photo I found by chance
caused me to consider various things. Always everyday, something called
"death" next to me. How scary. It must be something far beyond my
imagination now. According to my grandfather, my great-grandfather was a
career soldier. What was he really feeling and thinking at the battlefront
where there was hatred and fear? I
became embarrassed as I had thought until now in my mind, "War
is something far away from me." I
never met my great-grandfather, but he was a person who faced the fear of
death and war close to him. Although appearing calm, he must have been deeply
wounded in his heart from that fear and anxiety.
If I lived in a world of war, I would only earnestly hope, "I want
this war to end quickly." What were the true feelings in the hearts of
the people in those days who were saying, "for my country"? Perhaps
they hid their true feelings with the words "for my country" in
order to turn their eyes away from the misery and emptiness of war. How many
people became casualties of war, vanishing along with the dew of the
battlefield, while suppressing their personal feelings? What an empty world
where all people must endure putting a lid on their own feelings. Saying
honestly what one thought to be right was not permitted. Not allowed to flee,
one had to kill or be killed against one's own will. A circle of hatred
spreading wider and wider. The terror of war knows no end. Even though one
earnestly looks toward the end of war, ironically time erases from people the memories and
fears of war, and soon they repeat the same thing again.
back on history, there was never a time when there was not war. Might we
perhaps repeat the same mistake? Will we not know when we have lost the
importance of peace? We
who do not know war are too apathetic about peace. We are slow
to realize its importance after we have lost it. We who have responsibility
for the future must firmly keep in mind and seriously consider the
preciousness of "peace" and "life," and than take action. We
certainly have not experienced "war." However, we can know about war
through books that record war events and through stories of people who did
experience it. How this world will turn out has been entrusted to us. I, as
part of mankind, want to strive that there will be no fighting and that we will
have a society where everyone can smile cheerfully.
Here there is one more photo I found. On it is my great-grandfather smiling happily
together with his family. It is a big smile from his heart.
Translated by Bill Gordon