NEW YORK – Taichi Sugiyama was 3 years old when he lost his father, Yoichi Sugiyama, on Sept. 11, 2001. Now 16 years old, Sugiyama came to New York to ask the world to “never forget.”
On Thursday, Sugiyama read aloud names of some of the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks from a podium at the annual memorial ceremony. Afterward, he added a personal message.
“Dad, thank you for always being there with us, please stay (by) our side forever,” Sugiyama said looking skyward.
“Never, never, never, forget. This is my prayer,” he said in English. “Pray that something like this never happens again,” he added in Japanese.
Sugiyama traveled to attend the ceremony along with his mother, Harumi 49, and his father’s parents. The family had not come to the ceremony since the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that left nearly 3,000 dead.
“We are sad that he died, but we want to celebrate the good life he had,” Harumi Sugiyama said.
Yoichi’s son also conveyed his message about 9/11 at an English speech contest in Japan in the past. He told his audience that “even though many families have lost someone dear, revenge is not the way,” and “there must never be another 9/11.”
The high school student says his dream is to become a journalist and work to create more understanding among people.
“Even people who commit acts of terrorism have their own perspective. I think that if we hear other people out and try to understand their situation, we might be able to get by without so much fighting,” he said in an interview with Kyodo News.
His grandmother and Yoichi’s mother, Mari Sumiyama, 74, says she is happy he is growing up to be a good person.
Yoichi’s father Kazusada Sumiyama, 77, said he is feeling his age, but that won’t stop him from attending the ceremony. “I certainly intend to be here again next year,” Sumiyama said.