A 95-year-old World War II veteran says he was so saddened by the horrific mosque attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, that he took four buses to attend a solidarity march against racism in Auckland.
John Sato told Radio New Zealand he couldn’t sleep the night after the March 15 terror attacks that left 50 people dead.
“I stayed awake quite a lot at the night. I didn’t sleep too well ever since. I thought it was so sad. You can feel the suffering of other people,” Sato said.
So he decided to get to the rally Sunday any way he could from his home in the Auckland suburb of Howick.
Once there, he was supported on the arms of a police officer and another man. The scene was captured in a photo taken by Alexa Unrein, who was also attending the march.
“I was late for the march because I had back surgery a while ago,” she told CNN. “While we were trying to catch up we were lucky enough to witness the scene. I didn’t know who the old man was at the time but it was so beautiful to see him there and how everyone tried to help him to be a part of what seemed very important for him.”
Sato, whose mother is Scottish and father is Japanese, admits to being out of touch with the modern world. But the attacks in Christchurch prompted him to show solidarity with the Muslim community and opposition to racism.
“I think it’s such a tragedy, and yet it has the other side. It has brought people together, no matter what their race or anything. People suddenly realized we’re all one. We care for each other,” he continued.
After checking in at a vigil at a mosque in Pakuranga, not far from where he lives, Sato decided to hop on more buses to get to the city center and join the big rally.
Pakuranga is about 15 minutes away from Howick by bus. From there to Aotea Square, where the rally took place, it takes about 45-50 minutes by bus, depending on the route.
There he was helped by police and strangers to the awe of the people marching.
Others said they walked beside Sato and were impressed by his incredible mood.