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!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sometimes I think I have troubles...

...but then I read something that makes any problem I am having seem small.

This is a story about a young married couple named Nathan and Elisa. Nathan was recently diagnosed with Stage 3 rectal cancer. Nine days later, Elisa was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. They are literally in the battle of their lives while trying to care for their 18 month old daughter, Sadie.

I am adding this to my "Favorite Reading" list on the right, but in this case it is not reading for enjoyment. I am following this site, (click here) and planning to do whatever I can to help this family, especially praying many prayers. On the page you will find a link to their family blog, so you can follow their progress if you wish.

If we each light a single candle in their darkness, perhaps we can bring the light of day to them again.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Big Kid

A video gone viral is causing many a laugh around the internet. It is a clip of a schoolyard fight between a pint-sized bully and a large victim. The victim evidently has taken enough of the torment, so he grabs the bully and body-slams him to the ground. All the reactions that I have read cheer the victim for having the guts to put an end to the situation. Both children have been suspended from school for 4 days, according to the victim’s father. The whole situation makes me sad because I have seen so many similar situations over the years.

Going back in my mind, I remember a girl who was moved from a neighborhood school where she was well liked and respected, to a school where she became “the new kid” among students who had known each other since kindergarten. She towered over her classmates, even at the age of 8 years old most of the kids came up to about arm-pit level. From the first day she was given the name of “Jolly Green Giant.”

At first the girl laughed along with them, thinking it was the same kind of gentle banter that had been shared between friends back at the old school. But then the taunts became meaner, and soon the little pushes, shoves and pinches started.

The girl went to her teacher, who scolded, “You’re a big girl. Just ignore them.”

Next, the girl ignored them until somebody pulled her hair so hard that it brought her to tears. She turned around and punched him, and was sent to the principal.

She was given the punishment of writing 500 times, “I will not hit others,” and the boy who pulled her hair wasn’t punished at all! “You are so much bigger than him! Shame on you for hitting somebody so much smaller than you!”

It just escalated. The girl was heartbroken. It was bad enough being new in a school with no friends, but the bullying she was receiving was intolerable. Soon the girl had bloody pinch marks on her arms, and did not fight back so as to not get in trouble again. Her mother tried talking to the parents and the school, but was basically blown off. “She’s immature, she cries almost every recess.” Well, I wonder why???

But one day, it all came to an end, thanks to a boy named Tom. While at recess, the girl heard from behind her the familiar chant; “Hey Jolly Green Giant!” and felt a smack at the back of her head. And then… a voice hollered out, “You leave her ALONE!!!”

She turned around, and there was Tom standing next to her with his fists clenched, facing the usual group of tormentors. At first they laughed, “Tom’s got a girlfriend,” “What’s up Tom, are you in love with the Green Giant?” but he stood his ground.

“I said leave her alone. She’s nice, and she has never done anything to any of you. Why do you keep picking on her?”

One by one they slunk away and after that day, pretty much left her alone. As a matter of fact, over time she became friends with some of them, and even received a few apologies. It only took one person speaking up against something wrong to make them take notice.

That girl was me.

One person can truly make a difference in somebody’s life. Tom is no longer living for me to thank again, but I want to thank all the Toms out there who will stand up for somebody when nobody else will, and are not afraid to speak up when someone is being abused.

“Blessed are the Peacemakers.”

Sunday, March 6, 2011

I'm as mad as hell...

Sound familiar? Wikipedia description of a scene from old movie 'Network':

"The upper echelons of a major news network decide to exploit a news anchor's symptoms of mental illness rather than pulling him off the air, because their ratings are soaring. In one impassioned diatribe, Beale galvanizes the nation with his rant, "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" and persuades Americans to shout out of their windows during a lightning storm. Soon Beale is hosting a new program called 'The Howard Beale Show', top-billed as a 'mad prophet.' The network allows more and more bizarre events on live TV until ultimately they allow the televised assassination of Beale."

Reminds me of what networks currently are doing to Charlie Sheen. He obviously needs help, but first they will exploit him until he's all used up. Maybe even dead.

I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to watch it... ever.