Dr. Hong Zheng Reflects on his Earliest Memories of the Second Sino-Japanese War

Dr. Hong Zheng reflects on his earliest memory as a five year old during the Second Sino-Japanese War when Japanese airplanes dropped bombs around his village, forcing his family to seek shelter in an air raid shelter.

Transcript (Text)

But the first time I sensed there was a war was when I was five, when I heard alarms. In those days, somewhere in a station, they set up a trumpet, yell it out for everybody. There's certain number of Japanese airplane arriving. They're coming within the viewing distance.

I was out of our house, and I looked. And I saw maybe 20 airplanes flying through the sky to my east. I was fascinated. I never saw anything, aside from birds, flying, and never that high. And then they become more of a spectacle.

There were little lines issued from the airplane and dropped to the ground. It become a tilted straight line. Once it hit the ground, explode a bomb, fire will come up, and boom, fire will come up. It was such a fascinating scene.

I lost myself, standing there, dazed, enjoying the scene. And then my family came and grabbed me and say, come and hide, come and hide. I didn't understand what was going on. They pushed me down to under the bed. And then in a few minutes, I heard the roar of motors.

And something just flew right across our head, and bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam. The door was shaking. I was frightened. That time, I realized that it was not fun to watch the airplanes. So as the airplanes flew over, my family grabbed my hand and said, let's run.

So we ran out. There was a air raid shelter not far away. So I was running as fast as I could, run out of my breath. But then I heard the airplane motors roar again, coming back. And my family member told me, lie down, lie down. We all lie down.

And they flew over. Fortunately, we were not hit. Then after they flew over us, I was able-- we were able to run to the airplane shelter. And then someone said that if a bomb dropped on top of us, the air raid shelter would not be able to hold it. We would be all buried. So I certainly realized the meaning of death at that point.

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