A friend of mine sent me a story about a Japanese soldier and an American soldier meeting on the battlefield during World War II. The story takes quite a turn when they discover each had been a Boy Scout as a youth. Here is the story as it was sent to me:
Kyoto, Japan, is a city of many temples, among those temples stands a statue somewhat different than its surroundings. It is a statue of two young men, an American Scout, and a Japanese Scout, clasping hands. How it came to be there is a story worth telling.
Some of the worst fighting of World War II was in Okinawa. It was protracted, and bloody, and fought with fierce determination by both sides. In the midst of one of the battles, near the beach, a young American soldier fell wounded. As he lay there, bleeding and in pain, his vision out of focus, and about to lose consciousness, he saw a Japanese soldier standing over him, bayonet at the ready, poised to strike. He said afterwards he did not even know himself why he did what he then did. He was weak from blood loss and blacking out. But he raised his right hand in a familiar sign – the universally recognized Scout sign. Then he lost consciousness, expecting never to awake.
He did wake, though.
When he came to, he was in an American field hospital. His wounds had been dressed. And in his pocket was a note, written in Japanese. He was able to find someone to translate the note eventually, and this is what it said: “I could not bring myself to kill a fellow Scout.” The note also bore the name and address of the Japanese soldier who, instead of taking his life, had spared it, and tended to his wounds before moving on.
When the war had ended, the young soldier was assigned to the occupation force. He went to find his savior at the first opportunity. He discovered that the Japanese soldier who had both spared and saved his life had died later in the fighting on Okinawa. But his family had survived, and the American became their friend and helped them in every way he could during his time in Japan When asked why, he explained what had occurred, and showed the note, which he still kept. The people were so touched by this story, that they erected a monument which stands in Kyoto today.
It is a monument to our shared humanity – that in the midst of war and violence, of hatred and bloodshed, two young men found that they were in fact brothers. It is a monument to the ideals of Scouting – that even when thus deeply divided, Scouting is a link that joins us and encourages compassion, mercy, understanding, and peace. The statue stands among the temples of Kyoto, a monument to the spiritual values of the worldwide movement known as Scouting. It is also a monument to hope – the hope that if we can only recognize our common bonds, the world would be a better place.
I really like this story. After reading it I went online and tried to find a picture of the statue. To my surprise, I could not find one. Even Google did not help me. So I have a quest for you, the readers of this blog. I would like to see a picture of this statue. Do you have one? Do you know were I could find one? If you do, would you contact me at this address?
Thanks for your help.