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Thoughts About Peace
by Rimi Hamasaki, 8th Grade
Chiran Junior High School, Kagoshima Prefecture
Messages of Peace from Chiran
13th Annual Speech Contest, 2002
Honorable Mention, Junior High School Division

Everyone, what do you think about peace? When I first heard the word "peace," I did not know how to explain it. Every morning I get up, wash my face, eat breakfast, change into my uniform, go to school, attend classes, participate in club activities, and return home tired. Next, I eat dinner, take a bath, do my homework, and go to sleep. I think most people live this type of daily life. I thought that living this type of daily life was peace. In the world there are also people fighting against sickness who struggle as hard as they can to live. Moreover, there are people who lose their lives due to unforeseen accidents. In the world there are very many precious lives that are lost and people who fight illness after being hospitalized. Perhaps there are also people in this world who think the same as I do, but I think there are also many people with different ideas. The reason why is that I now often hear on television about family suicides and murders. In addition, I hear about terrorist incidents such as terrorist bombings.

I read a book to think about peace. I was able to find a book entitled Treasure of Peace in the school library. I learned the following two things from this book.

There is a Shinto shrine called Sanno Shrine, which is only about 800 meters from the epicenter of the atomic bomb dropped on the city of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. Half of the torii gate, one of the pillars and half of the crossbeam, at the entrance to that shrine was blown away, and now the remaining part is called the "one-legged torii." I thought it is terrible to think of the pillar of a huge stone torii being blown away by an atomic bomb blast. People who were caught in the atomic bomb's heat ray and engulfed in flames moaned due to the heat and pain, "water, water," as if they were dying. The following words are written on a monument named "From a Day in a Girl's Diary," in the spray of the "Peace Fountain" in the middle of Peace Park.

My thirst was unbearable. Something like oil floated on the water's surface. I desperately wanted water, so finally I drank it with the oil floating on the surface.

Reading this, I thought she must have been extremely thirsty. Her body most likely also had been seriously wounded. I just wanted to let her drink clean water.

War is not a good thing at all. A long time ago Japan also did damage to other countries. Near the end of the war, atomic bombs were dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Also, many people died, including kamikaze pilots and soldiers. Even though we wage war, nothing good comes from it, only more sorrow and suffering. Whether we win or lose a war, the damage inflicted on people will not change. People's precious lives, and the heartfelt pain of losing precious individuals. In spite of this, why do we engage in war? I think it odd. Wasn't there some way to resolve the problem other than fighting?

After thinking about the damage after war, I think it is best to find a way to resolve our issues. Even now there are many people in the world who are suffering from the damage inflicted by war. Isn't there something we can do on behalf of these people? We can help in various ways by doing fund raising and volunteer activities in Japan and by participating in organizations that assist people who have been hurt. As people help one another, I think the world in which we live our daily lives can move nearer to peace. Therefore, going forward, I want to work to get involved with fund raising and volunteer activities. Also, I want to make myself useful to various people.

Translated by Bill Gordon
September 2004