Seventy-one years ago my father left Thailand, where he had endured three years as a prisoner of the Japanese Imperial Army during WWII. He recorded his experiences of that terrible time in a small brown exercise book that served as his journal. It was not for the faint hearted, the perils of writing. Any POW found with written material gambled with the fate of dire punishment, torture and even death.
And yet, Capt. Edward J. Emery risked his life anyway. Now, that diary resides in the Thailand-Burma Railway Center in Kanchanaburi, Thailand. The inspiration and impetus for my journey has now come home.
I know my Dad would be content. Especially given that the names of fellow POWs listed in those pages, will help some families find closure on the unknown fate of loved ones. As a doctor, Daddy cared for, and comforted, countless men in the hospital wards he was assigned to.
My father taught me many things... however, my personal takeaway from this journey is the following...
Have the courage to write and speak out against injustice.
Do not allow fear to prevent you from exposing and sharing information that powerful entities would prefer to remain hidden.
Seek the truth, even though it is always subjective.
Do not allow demagogues, bullies and fascist dictators to silence the media by tricking you into believing they are conspiring to dupe you. Yes, there are cases where the media is used as a propaganda tool, but in modern democracies there is enough information to allow populations to be discerning and fact-check the lies.
So what is next for me? I will continue to follow the sinister trail of the Golden Lily, and write the sequel to my first novel. In this way I feel I am honoring my father's legacy of writing, despite the risks involved.