In the wake of an unthinkable tragedy, New Zealand has come together as a community to support its citizens and those affected by the Christchurch terrorist attacks. Biker gangs guard local mosques during prayer time, politicians make strides to change gun laws, and anti-racism rallies support acceptance for all. One such rally hosted last Sunday was attended by a 95-year-old WWII veteran who took four buses to be a part of the historic march.
On Sunday, an anti-racism rally took over the Aotea Square in Auckland, New Zealand. The rally was one of many ways the community is responding to the tragic shootings in Christchurch.
John Sato, a 95-year-old WWII veteran was among the manyattendees at the march.
Mr. Sato took four buses from his home to join in the rally and show his support for the Muslim community. Though he’s been pretty out of touch with the modern world, Mr. Sato said that after hearing the news about the terrorist attack he couldn’t sleep.
“I stayed awake quite a lot at the night. I didn’t sleep too well ever since. I thought it was so sad. You can feel the suffering of other people,” Mr. Sato said.
Mr. Sato identifies as Eurasian—his mother is Scottish and his father Japanese. Unfortunately, Mr. Sato is no stranger to tragedy. He lost his wife 15 years ago and his daughter passed away last year. The 95-year-old believes hardships are a part of life and it’s important to protect each other regardless of cultural background or ethnicity.
“I think it’s such a tragedy, and yet it has the other side. It has brought people together, no matter what their race or anything. People suddenly realised we’re all one. We care for each other,” Mr. Sato said.
After hearing about the vigils and memorial events taking place around the country, Mr. Sato wanted to see a mosque in Pakuranga which was not far from his home. But this was only the beginning of what became a long journey for him.
Mr. Sato took a bus to Pakuranga and then decided to go to the city center where the rally was taking place. The commute took four buses in total.
When he arrived, people were overwhelmingly kind to Mr. Sato. One policeman even gave him water and offered to take him home.
“Policeman took me all the way home, waited down there until he saw me getting up the stairs. The tragedy in Christchurch, look at what it brought out in people. It shows the best of humanity,” Mr. Sato said.
Sato was recruited to the New Zealand army during World War II to fight against Japan at a young age. He feels it was a waste of time because life is too short to be focused on hatred.
Mr. Sato says the Christchurch incident was far more than a tragedy for the people of New Zealand.
“We all go through our furnace in certain ways and some of the things that happen to us will make you more understanding, I hope.”