One More Life We Uphold
by Ayumi Tominaga, 9th Grade
Chosa Junior High School, Kagoshima Prefecture
Messages of Peace from Chiran
13th Annual Speech Contest, 2002
Honorable Mention, Junior High School Division
I went to the Chiran Peace Museum for Kamikaze Pilots last
summer and to Kanoya Air Base Museum this May during the long holiday break.
They display there photographs of kamikaze pilots who went to battle and
died for Japan and various items such as clothing, hats, and shoes owned by the
pilots. These displays of things as they were then show us scenes
from those days. Besides
these, at the Chiran Peace Museum for Kamikaze Pilots there is a Zero
plane actually flown and used by kamikaze pilots, and at the Kanoya Air Base
Museum an unused torpedo from the war is displayed.
However, the thing I was most interested in was something
else. It was the numerous letters and diaries that record the thoughts of the
In the letters there are many things written to family and
girlfriends. There were only ones that expressed the pilots'
enthusiasm to go to war and that communicated their feelings in such a way that
the recipients of the letters would not worry. Next
to these letters there was a handmade mascot doll, which the girls
who remained in Japan made to give to the pilots. Countless letters and gifts
such as these are displayed, but I think the people in those days had thoughts
that cannot be communicated with only these. In
contrast with these items, there are just a few letters displayed that were
written to the kamikaze pilots by families and girlfriends. Rather than not
being displayed, they do not remain. Without thinking deeply, in the beginning I
had the question, "Why are there so few letters to the kamikaze
pilots?" I came up with my own answer. The pilots must have
always carried around the letters, which cheered them up and encouraged
them. When they encountered sadness and difficulty and their
courage seemed gone, I think they cheered themselves up by reading those letters
again and again. Therefore, many of those letters became part of the brave pilots, and the letters perished together with them.
This answer may not be correct since it is my own personal
conclusion, not something I asked someone about or something published in a
However, I believe that in whatever era the idea of everyone
wanting to have their own important things does not change.
In the diaries are written plainly the anxieties and
sentiments inside themselves that they could not say to people. Now
these diaries are impressively displayed and read by everyone, but I think there
were diaries that perhaps the young men who wrote them would not want anyone to
see. This is because it is embarrassing for anyone to have other people see a
diary, where one has written about the weaknesses inside one's heart that one
bears without telling anyone.
At first I also was surprised when I read these diaries. Honestly,
I thought only sentences full of enthusiasm would have been
written. This does not necessarily mean that I misjudged the kamikaze pilots.
Rather, there was something that inspired me because I realized their feelings.
That is the bravery of the kamikaze. There
were many pilots still in their late teens and twenties. I believe
they wanted to realize their own dreams and have their own
families. Also, some already had
their own families. All of them probably wanted to live much, much longer.
And each one surely wanted to live his only life fully. But in the end
they called upon their own courage for the sake of the country. I do not think that
the young people of today, including myself, could ever imitate them. However,
there are things we also can do. We can preserve the peace built by the brave
kamikaze pilots. Since we today live upholding the lives of the kamikaze pilots,
we can live our own lives to the fullest, along with treasuring our own and
Translated by Bill Gordon