In a moving tribute, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has thanked WWII veteran John Sato for attending a march against racism after the Christchurch terror attack. Sato, 95, took four buses to join the rally in central Auckland. He was famously pictured marching arm-in-arm with a police officer and a stranger.
Sato told Radio New Zealand that he was a bit out of touch with the modern world but after hearing about the 50 people killed in the attack, Sato was determined to show his support for the Muslim community.
He first took a bus to a nearby mosque in Pakuranga and then continued to the city centre. Two transfers later, he arrived in Auckland’s Aotea Square.
On social media, Ardern posted a picture of herself with Sato in admiration.
“It’s hard to write something that does 95 year old John Sato justice,” she wrote and because she could not find the words, the New Zealand leader quoted an interview with Sato from the rally.
“I stayed awake quite a lot of the night. I didn’t sleep too well ever since. I thought it was so sad. You can feel the suffering of other people.
“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 realised we’re all one. We care for each other.”
“Thank you John. Your actions warmed the hearts of so many during a time of such sadness.”
After the rally, Sato said the police drove him home.
“Policeman took me all the way home, waited down there until he saw me getting up the stairs. The tragedy in Christchurch, look at what it brought out in people. It shows the best of humanity,” he said.