by Michael Ransom, Win Shen, and James Shen
“Not only was I the youngest child in my family, but I believe I was also the happiest. Because I was the youngest, very little work was assigned to me. So I swam, hunted wild ducks, rode horses, and bicycled. I did many chores around the house, though, and I always received high marks at my primary and middle schools. But my happy childhood ended on July 7, 1937, when the Japanese invaded our country.
In those days, we did not celebrate birthdays the way we do today (a major difference between the Chinese and American cultures). When I was young, nobody had a birthday party for me. I don’t even know the dates when my father and mother were born or died. Because as a young boy, I didn’t think to ask my father when he was born. So I don’t know.
I have but a few pictures remaining that were taken during my childhood. Sadly, the Japanese, then the Communists, not only destroyed my hometown and killed my family members, they destroyed my family’s belongings, including the photographs. They may have been able to destroy the pictures, but they did not destroy my memories of happy times in my hometown with my family.”