By Ann Curry, NBC News 6/20/2011
“It was not safe and I had nowhere to go.” — Hiroe Nagase
These were the words I heard my mother speak as she remembered the day World War II arrived on her doorstep. At just 16, she had emerged from a bomb shelter and saw virtually nothing left standing after the air raid that made her run for her life.
I imagined her terror in that chaos, and tried to empathize with her feeling that she may not survive.
Still, only recently did I connect the experience of hearing her story in our living room in tiny Ashland, Oregon, to what motivates my constant effort to give voice to refugees of war, hunger, disease and especially genocide and ethnic cleansing.
I realize now that I don’t see these refugees as people of another world but rather as us: our mothers and fathers, brothers, sisters, daughters and sons. They suffer the tragedies that have persistently haunted our human history, so persistently that it is reasonable to ask, how many among us aren’t the progeny of refugees in one generation or another?
Even today as I write this, refugees are fleeing from Syria into Turkey, from Yemen into Europe, from Sudan’s north-south border at Abyei, just as we have seen refugees flee Rwanda, Kosovo, Congo, Burma, Darfur and Germany, to name just a few in our own time.
When, at age 12, I first heard about the Holocaust, what stunned me most was discovering that not only did people risk their own lives to save Jews, they risked their children’s lives as well.
Imagine what a world it would be if every human being had that kind of courage. Those brave people who stood against Hitler must be the forerunners for the greater, more compassionate humankind we are evolving into. (Original story posted on NBC Nightly News – http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43383554/ns/nightly_news/)
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