Only search Kamikaze Images
And For the Future
by Ai Kamisono, 7th Grade
Ikeda Junior High School, Kagoshima Prefecture
Messages of Peace from Chiran
13th Annual Speech Contest, 2002
First Prize, Junior High School Division

"If the war had gone on another week, Grandpa also would have flown this plane," my grandmother whispered in front of the shining green kamikaze plane with its prominent rising sun. I was visiting the Kamikaze Peace Museum here in Chiran with my grandparents. As my grandfather looked at Mount Kaimon, rising up clearly toward the deep blue sky painted in back of the plane, he told me softly, "When I saw that mountain on the left hand side, I said, 'I'm going now' and waved my hand until it could no longer be seen." He said that even now he could not forget the indescribable regret and loneliness of those days.

My grandfather piloted a Zero fighter. Several planes escorted the kamikaze planes along their route in order to protect them from enemy attack. Friends who he had lived together with until the day before now faced "death." How did my grandfather feel saying goodbye to one friend, then another? When I first heard my grandfather's story, I was touched and my legs trembled. While looking at the back of my grandfather staring silently at the photos of the young kamikaze pilots, I was filled with indescribable sadness and regret. If there had been no war, these sweetly smiling young men would have been surrounded by their grandchildren, like my grandfather now, and would have been living quietly in peace. But the war snatched all that away.

Last summer my Buddhist temple school group visited Vietnam, a country where there was a horrible war for a long period. However, now it certainly looks like they are starting to walk toward "peace." The entire country was full of energy.

There I made friends with the children of Muong Phon Elementary School. Everyone was a little bit shy, but telling me their dreams made their eyes sparkle: "I want to study hard and become a school teacher." "I want to be a nurse." While talking with them, I thought how great it was these children could tell me about their dreams in the midst of peace.

However, their parents had experienced the Vietnam War. Even now many air-raid shelters remain in the hills. With what thoughts did the people inside these damp earthen holes view the war? At the war museum there were displayed many battle-scarred tanks that seem to have been used until recently. It felt like screams from the many victims could be heard. In addition, even now some children cannot attend school due to the effects of the chemical weapons such as the defoliant Agent Orange. The country is recovering and moving toward a new future. In contrast to the children with their bright hopes, there still remain unspeakable deep scars from the war. I was deeply shocked when I learned these things. War has not yet ended!

Today's Japan is very peaceful. In this environment don't we think this peace is natural? However, now somewhere in the world armed conflicts and terrorist incidents are happening, and many lives are being taken away. We can never become indifferent to world events.

Peace is something everyone can begin to create.

Since cultures, languages, skin colors, and ways of thinking are different, it is important to strive to mutually recognize these differences and to understand each other. With a kind pure heart, each person should respect oneself and others as friends on this same earth. By doing this a rich pleasant world in which to live will grow.

Now if we follow these ideas, it will never be forgotten that we can live peacefully thanks to many precious lives. And the importance of these lives, regardless of race, religion, and culture, is the same for everyone throughout the world. We young people must join our lives together, take each other's hand, and take on the important role of building a peaceful world for the future. I want to continue my strong determination to maintain peace and to tell others about precious lives from the past and for the future!

Translated by Bill Gordon
January 2004