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.
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.
September 10, 2005
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.