It could be your mother, a friend or a teacher. Have they expressed themselves artistically? Worked to better their community? Achieved academic success? Empowered others and embraced diversity? Share their stories here.
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Kathleen Burkinshaw

Charlotte, NC, United States

My mom, Toshiko Ishikawa Hilliker, was a Hibakusha. At the tender age of 12, she lost her home, family, and friends in one day. She was too young to fully understand, but too old to ever forget. She ended up in the United States, which wasn’t always easy because there was still prejudice against the Japanese 14 years after WWII. Yet, she didn’t let that bother her and within a few years, she became an American citizen, and worked on the circuit boards for Apollo 11. Despite all she lost that August day, she never lost her ability to love me and later my daughter. My mother was the bravest woman I’ll ever know. She always said that war was hellish on both sides. She was a private person and didn’t want to speak about what happened on August 6th, but she gave me the privilege to discuss her experience to middle and high schools on her behalf. She gave me the honor of writing her story in a work of historical fiction, The Last Cherry Blossom. Sadly, she passed away in January 2015. However, she did know the book would be published. She was amazed that anyone would want to read her story. Her wish and my hope is not only to convey the message that nuclear weapons should never be used again; but to also reveal that the children in Japan had the same love for family, fear of what could happen to them, and hopes for peace as the Allied children had. I want the students to walk away knowing that the ones we may think are our “enemy” are not always so different from ourselves. A message that needs to be heard now more than ever. My mother’s life proved to me that love can conquer fear.