Stolen Voices Excerpt

From the author of the international bestseller Zlata's Diary comes a haunting testament to how war's brutality affects the lives of young people. Stolen Voices, from which this text is excerpted, would be a fascinating addition to your literature or social studies curriculum.
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1 January 1943

Well today is the first day of the year nineteen hundred and forty- two three. I wonder what it has in store for me?

Wonder what it has in store for everybody?
Wonder where I'll be next year?
Wonder when the war will end?

Last year, today, I said I hoped that the war would end in a year. Well it didn't but this year I say again "I hope the war ends this year, but definitely."

Another thing is I hope I'm out of here and a free man by '44.

Here are a few New Year's resolutions I hope I can live up to:

  1. I resolve to be more tolerant

    Not only with my family members but with everyone.

  2. I resolve to be more understanding of others and more appreciative

    This goes hand in hand with no. 1. Great men are great because they understand people better. They are great because they are not narrow-minded. One of the things a person wants most is appreciation - so I want to give people as much appreciation as possible.

  3. I resolve to study as hard as I can and learn as much as I can

    So that when I am a man I won't be a dumbbell.

  4. I resolve to help ma and pa more

  5. I resolve not to abandon any high ambitions

Prediction: war will end between 1943-44, about one and a half years more.

Today in the morning I played cards and then in the afternoon, I listened to football games. Well the rose bowl game came out as I expected but not as I hoped. Most people said the Georgia would smother the U.C.L.I. but I said it would be pretty close. U.C.L.I held Georgia scoreless for three quarters, but Georgia piled it on in the last and won 9-0. I hoped U.C.L.A would win, which they didn't however.

Last year at this time I was at home in San Gabriel, Calif. and now I am here in an evacuation camp in Heart Mountain, Wyo. Gosh a lot happened last year. In the spring we had to work hard to sell out our stock. In Easter we quit, handed over the nursery to Mr Dailey. We moved to Los Angeles for a month until evacuation to Pomono A. Center. After Pomono we boarded a train, and after about three and a half days of traveling through Nevada, Utah and Colorado, we reached this camp in Wyoming. And here I am today, hoping that next year at this time, I'll be home or somewhere else outside of camp.

14 May 1943

Today marks the end of one year in camp for me. I shall remember that day I was evacuated for the rest of my life. I shall remember how I stood on the corner of Garvey and Atlantic with a thousand others — then the busses came and whisked us off to camp. I shall remember the lump that came into my throat as the bus went down the street, and when some of the people on the sidewalks and Mexicans in the fields waved at us.

I shall remember the barbed wire, the armed guards, the towers, the dust, the visitors, the food lines, the typhoid shots, my busboy job, my messenger job, the crowded barracks, the nightly talent shows, the friends I made, my Judo lessons, bed count, and finally my leaving on the train to here.

I shall remember the train ride, the sleepless nights, the deserts, the mountains, the beautiful scenery.

Now that I am here, I think of the cold weather I have been thru, the dust storms and the rest of my hardships. But I will also remember all the friends I made here, the tough school I went to, and I feel no bitterness to the government for the evacuation — though I still feel that it wasn't right.

31 January 1944

New lease on life!

Man do I feel swell! 'Member I thought I had TB or something, well I don't. Dr. Robbins looked my x-rays over and told me there's nothing wrong with my lungs. So I guess I'll go on to college! or the army.

And I made up my mind on something else, too - I'm going into the artist-writer field. And I'm going to be the best artist in the world (Even if my IQ is low) and another thing, after I graduate from college I'm going to bum my way around the world. So the world better watch out. Hayami is going to the top!

I'd better start building up my body, though. I want it to come with me.

Just a little while ago, I walked up to the hospital — I was jittery and nervous as hell. By the time I got to the hospital, though, I didn't feel as bad — I tried not to think about it — I felt that this might be the most unhappiest day or the happiest of my life — it turned out to be the most happiest! Dr. Robbins, smoking a long black cigar, said, "Nothing there my boy", as he read my x-ray. "You can sing for joy." He extended his hand, but I was so stupefied and so sure that I had TB that I forgot to shake it. In fact I walked about a block back home before it sunk in. Then I looked around — beautiful day isn't it! — sun shining down on the bright white snow, children yelling and playing — all happiness — no worries! — the future ahead of me!

God has smiled down on me. I thought maybe I'm not worth it. I'm determined to make myself worth it.

24 March 1944 10:05 p.m.

Hawaiian guitars playing
Ukuleles humming
Warm summer nights
Creak of the screen door
Cars in the street not far
Green plants and shrubbery
Eucalyptus trees sighing
and rustling in a cooling breeze
Brothers, sisters and ma and pa's
laughter, scolding, and just plain nothing
These are the thoughts I have tonight.

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