July 2005

Dear Madam Ni,

 

Your tale of immense suffering was absolutely riveting. That someone could have survived what you survived is almost in the realm of fiction. And not only have you survived, but you are now willing to share your story so that others might learn and benefit from it. To say that you are remarkably courageous is beyond obvious. You are an inspiration and model to us all. So thank you for sharing your story, as horrific as it was, with us.

 

Your story saddened, uplifted, and moved me. It saddened me to imagine that so-called civilized man is still capable of the evilest, vilest atrocities imaginable. It uplifted me to know that you have survived and that you are willing to tell your story. It moved me by confirming for me that we are all, despite our outward differences, all the same. We share the same basic human goals, and arguably one of them is that we want our children and our grandchildren’s lives to be better than our own.

 

So let me offer you my heartfelt thanks and appreciation for your willingness and graciousness in telling your story. Not only did your words inspire me but your gestures – your slight smile, your clasping of your hands, the warmth of your eyes – moved me. You are a truly heroine. Thank you.

 

Judy Brune

 


 

July 2005

Dear Survivor,

 

I feel so terribly inadequate in addressing my words to you. Mere words cannot even begin to convey the depths of my feeling and empathy for what you have related to us. In two hours, you have taken us as close to ‘hell on earth’ as any one of is ever going to experience. But you did experience it! You lived it! And you survived. And we only heard your words, sixty years after the event.

 

Your overwhelming courage is so abundantly clear that it scarcely needs to be noted. Your courage is exemplary and a model to all. The courage to have lived, to have survived, and now, to be willing to share your story is indeed remarkable. The atrocities and horrors are sadly far too evident. But I would humbly ask you to do a number of things.

 

One, never ever forget – and never allows those around you to forget.

 

Two, always have the courage to be willing to share your story, as painful as it is so that others may benefit and so that the deaths and suffering will not have been in vain.

 

Three, to appreciate that beauty becomes greater when one has experienced horror. And never forget, there is great beauty – still – in life. I hope you have already, and will continue, to find it.

 

Four, to find it in your heart to forgive but never ever to forget.

 

Allow me to close by quoting the words of John Donne:

 

No man is an island, entire of itself
every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main………
 
any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind
and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls
it tolls for thee. 
 

Yours truly,

Nick Brune

 


 

September 10, 2005

Dear Survivors,

 

Hearing your stories has changed my life. Never again will I be able to hear words like “war”, “suffering”, “bravery”, or “strength” without thinking of you.

 

While I was in China, watching you tell the heartbreaking truth about Japanese cruelty to you and your loved ones, I cried many tears. However, it did not stop there. I have cried many times since, and have great difficulty getting you out of my everyday thoughts.

 

I have the utmost respect for you. You suffered greatly, but somehow found the strength to endure. Your bravery in the face of the most severe adversity fills me with awe and admiration.

 

Please take some comfort in the fact that your stories will now be told to many people in  Canada, especially schoolchildren. You are a part of Chinese history. Your stories will now be passed on to future generations. 

 

Thank you for sharing this terrible part of your life. I wish you peace and happiness.

 

亲爱的幸存者:

听你们的故事改变了我的生活。从今以后,每当我听见战争痛苦勇敢或者坚强的时候,都不禁会想起你们。

 

当我在中国的时候,看着你们诉说另人心碎的事实,日本军对你们和你们所爱的人的暴行,我留下了很多眼泪。然而,我的眼泪没有就此停住。从那以后,我哭了很多很多次,我无法将你们从脑海里抹去。

 

我对你们有最崇高的敬意。你们承受了巨大的痛苦,但却找到了生存下来的勇气。你们面对最深重的灾难时候的勇气,激起了我对你们的尊重和敬意。

 

希望你们在知道你们的故事在加拿大 特别是在学生中广为流传之后,能感到些许宽慰。你们是中国历史的一部分。你们的故事将传给我们的后人。

 

感谢你们愿意把你们生命中最可怕的部分告诉我们,愿你们安宁,快乐。

 

Leslie Graham

 


 

July 19, 2005

Letter to the Nanking Survivor:

 

I almost thought I lost my father yesterday and it was very hard on me. I can not even imagine how you must of felt when you lost your parents and brothers and sisters. Did you even get a chance to say goodbye? Were you able to tell them that you loved them so much for the last time? The pain that I felt yesterday was probably only the smallest fraction in comparison to what you must of felt. To me it was the darkest day of my life since I lost my mother, and so it was extremely difficult for me. How you were able to handle that pain I will never know. Thank you so much for helping me to appreciate life and the love of family that is undeniably irreplaceable. I hope I can give your spirit a little bit peace in the fact that I will bring your message into my classroom and keep your memories alive. Your voice will not be silenced.

 

Sincerely,

James V. Knihniski

 


 

July 19 2005

 

     I was struck by the horror that was witnessed at such a young age. I can’t imagine a more tragic and terrifying experience for such young and innocent lives. To carry that picture in your mind for the rest of you life must be more painful and debilitating than any physical scar. To share that story with us was so strong. I felt the pain as much as it is possible for any spectator. I made the comment that I understood Chinese for the first time as I looked into the eyes of the storyteller no translation was needed. I was all reluctantly and gratefully understood.

 

在如此小的年纪就经历了这样的恐惧,令我震惊。我无法想像世界上会比这更悲剧性的,更恐怖的事情发生在如此幼小和无辜的人们。让这些画面跟随你们的余生一定比生理上的创伤更痛苦。你们愿意告诉我们这些故事,真的很坚强。跟其他旁观者一样,我感到悲痛。我跟别人说:当我看着受害者诉说时的眼神,生平第一次,无需翻译,我带着感激,认识与理解了中国人。

 

Colin MacNeil

 


 

August 2005

A letter to the victim

 

Personal reflections: I have no words to express my sorrow after listening to your testimonies.

 

Your horror, your night mare seems to be very vivid, as if it happened right there and then.  You froze in time. Are you ever able to close your eyes without reliving this nightmare?

 

It must be so much harder for you to cope with the pain and the tragedy, when the perpetrators of such horrible crimes, went on living unpunished.

 

Although one can lose faith in humanity when one learns of the massacre that was committed not by beasts but by so called ‘normal human beings. However, one regains some faith when one witnesses your courage, your strength and your willingness to go on living.

 

Thank you

 

Souad Sharabani

 


 

July 19, 2005

Dear Madame Ni,

 

I am struck by your strong spirit and strong voice. You are small in stature, but you have a great personality. I admire you for being strong enough to share your story with the world. I believe that each time you tell your story, you bring us close to justice. By “us”, I mean you, the other survivors, and all the people who feel the pain of your experience as a crime against humanity.

 

I cannot believe that anyone would deny this part of history, especially after hearing you testify when you tell your story; your voice conveys your pain and sorrow. The power of your emotions cannot be falsified. How could anyone deny your story?

 

Sooner or later, we will find justice. Your experience will transcend the politics, the economics, and the greed of those who cannot admit to their responsibility in their atrocities. When you tell your story enough times, it will become louder in the ears of people, the governments, and the world. Then justice will be found and we can prevent this from happening again.

 

Thank you for your courage and your spirit. While your life has been difficult, you are still able to smile with hope. Your strength is my inspiration to carry your story into the world.

 

Sincerely,

Amy Yeung