This Thanksgiving and Christmas marks the 54th year since I was in a Japanese slave camp as a prisoner of war. There was little to be thankful for at Thanksgiving except I was still alive—just another work day. Christmas was no different and no one hoped for another year, but most of prayed that some way our plight would end one way or the other.
Nearly four years since Pearl Harbor and Bataan, each day would add another notch of hate to our long list of reasons to hate the Japanese, such as starving, brutal treatment, and the killing of Americans for no good reason. My hate was so embedded into me that it was set like concrete. Nothing could change my mind. Our hunger for food was nothing like our hunger for freedom.
We all had given up any hope of returning home. We lived hoping we could see the day that the Japanese would get what we thought they deserved. It was a joy to see American planes come and bomb their homes and towns. More like a good ballgame to us.
When the day came that we were free and realized that America was going to let them off “Scott free” and leave the Japanese Emperor in place, it was as though we were again slapped in the face by our own government. Tears came in most of our eyes.
When I arrived at the pier in San Francisco, at the bottom of the gang plank I got down on my knees and kissed the ground. Little did I know that the horrors of war would follow me for another twenty-nine years.
After the excitement of getting home and I tried to return to a normal life, the monster of hate started to work on me. I had terrible nightmares almost every night. I became a bag of nerves, my food would not digest and I went down in weight to 140 pounds. Along with all of this I started having pneumonia. My health was so bad they would not let me go back into the army to serve in the Korean War.
This hatred was consuming my entire body. My mind was such that hatred was a way of life for me. I started looking at everyone trying to find things to hate about them—gratifying my appetite for hate. I guess it was to prove to myself that I could not get rid of the hatred.
I went to the lowest ebb in my life before I found out that I had to get rid of this hatred. It was not hurting them—the Japanese didn’t even know I was in the world. By this time I had been married a few times. I just could not make a relationship work.
One night I woke up and it was as though an angel was telling me to get out of bed and get on my knees and pray to God to take away the hate. Forgive me for what I had done to others and to myself with all the hate inside me. That night God showed me a way to let the hate go. It took time and effort, but I could no longer live with it. By this time I had had several bouts with pneumonia and cancer, but at least it was a start to getting my life back on track.
To my surprise I realized that could love to a greater dimension than I could hate. It was easier to look for the good in others, not the bad. Hate saps your energy and makes your mind play tricks on yourself, but love adds wonderful things to your life, and gives your life meaning.
Now fifty-four years later, I have everything to be thankful for. My family, my children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren, many friends and a wonderful person that plans to marry me soon. Through God I’ve found the peace that I thought would only happen in death.
By: Glenn D. Frazier
P.S. When you read this and your life is filled with hate—try to change it to love and see what happens.
“Wishing you a Blessed Holiday Season”