Monday, March 28, 2011

A Tale of Two Scouts

My daughter's boyfriend Alex obtained the rank of Eagle Scout awhile back, but because of a variety of circumstances his Court of Honor wasn't held until this past weekend. Our whole family attended, and we were all duly impressed with all the pomp and circumstance surrounding the event. Four new Eagle Scouts were honored in person by each segment of the US Armed Forces and presented with a variety of awards, including a letter from the President of the United States, members of the US Congress, and our State Governor.

In spite of all of those honors, what really made a lasting impression on me was a story (below) about a Japanese Boy Scout and an American Boy Scout during World War II, told by one of the scoutmasters. Until yesterday, I was not even aware that there is such a group as the Boy Scouts of Japan!

Later at home, the story was still on my mind. However, I was pretty well convinced that it was just a bit of "glurge," so I did some research. In case you are not familiar with that term:

GLURGE [Glurj]
1. Chicken soup with several cups of sugar mixed in.
2. A sickeningly sweet inspirational story that is purportedly factual, but more often merely an urban legend.

Although the tale is sweet enough to qualify as glurge, evidently it is true.

This monument is located in Yokohama, 20 miles from Tokyo, inside a theme park. Here is the story, which is a general translation of the above plaque...

Unknown Scout Soldier -- This statue is a memorial of a true story of a fierce battle in World War II, which happened on an island in the South Pacific Ocean. An American soldier was seriously wounded, and he was lying where he had fallen. The sound of gunfire stopped, and the surroundings quieted down. He heard someone's footsteps approaching him. A Japanese soldier who had a gun with a bayonet was standing over him when he opened his eyes. He thought that he was going to be killed by the Japanese soldier, and he fainted.

After a while, he woke up. He found a white slip of paper on the sand by his side, and he put it in his pocket. He was carried on a stretcher to the field operations aid station soon after that. When he was put on the operating table, he remembered the slip of paper in his pocket, and gave it to the doctor. It was a message from the Japanese soldier, and was as follows: "When I was about to kill you, you made the three fingered Scout salute. I am a Scout. A Scout is a brother. Therefore, I could not kill any person who lost the fighting spirit. I tended to your wound. Good luck!"

After the war the American soldier and his father visited the Boy Scout headquarters in the United States, and told this story. They donated money for the Boy Scouts to put up a monument to the Scouting Spirit. The American soldier's name is not known. The Japanese soldier was killed. This monument is to the Unknown Scout Soldier. This is an example of the Scout Spirit of Japan.


A big congratulations to Alex for achieving the highest rank in this fine organization!

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