Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Last One To Go


 I saw the following on the wall of the Marine Biological Laboratory's library when I was in Woods Hole last week.  It was written by Katsuma Dan who was a Japanese cell biologist and embryologist.  He studied at the MBL, married a scientific collaborator Jean Clark, and maintained lasting ties to the laboratory at Woods Hole.

Dan returned to Japan in the late  1930s and worked at the Misaki Marine Biological Station in Morioso Bay. He and his students maintained a remarkable degree of scientific productivity during World War II. Near the end of the war the Japanese Navy took over the Misaki Marine Station and converted it into a base for miniature submarines. Although displaced, Dan and his students set up a crude laboratory nearby and continued their work. At the end of the war Dan posted a hand-written note on the door of Misaki (which I photographed and inserted above), addressed to advancing America forces, in which he said: “... you can destroy the weapons and the war instruments but save the civil equipments  for the Japanese students. When you are through with your job here notify to the university and let us come back to our scientific home.” The note was signed, “The last one to go.”

It is a remarkable note in that the Misaki Marine Station was spared.  I found his appeal poignant.  He simply wanted to return to studying the cells and embryos that interested him.  I think about how lucky I have had it to work at a place where the only complaints over the last few years have been budgetary.  I've had every opportunity to work in peace and with great people. 

I'm glad too that in recovery I finally made it into the rooms of Al-Anon.  I wasn't the last one to go.  I am convinced that I went when God knew it was time for me to be there. I am so grateful for that. 

16 comments:

  1. I love this Syd! And I agree, I think I found my way to the program when I was ready, and not before.

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  2. what an awesome piece of history!! thanks so much for sharing with the rest of us. what an amazing journey your career has taken you on.

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  3. What a wonderful sentiment, and a noble description of the work we do as scientists. We do not seek, usually, to settle the affairs of nations. We seek to understand the world God made.

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  4. Yes, you have been fortunate to work in a field you are interested in and in an atmosphere you are comfortable with and around people you like. The time for you to stop working may be coming soon but your work in Al-Anon will be forever.

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  5. What an uplifting story. Decency in the time of war.

    I'm alive, apparently, because a German WWI officer called off the execution of my (then) 16 year old grandad. The story is that my young grandad looked too much like the officer's own son. the office couldn't bring himself to call the order to 'Fire!'

    I wonder what similar thoughts went through the minds of the Americans who came across that note in the marine station. What led them to choose mercy?

    Your story is a neat reminder that sometimes all I have to do is ask. Ask, and it shall be given.

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  6. What a great metaphor.

    Blessings and aloha...

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  7. I found the letter touching as well. Damn governments and war.

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  8. My timing is too human. God's timing is perfect.

    I sometimes wonder about the order in which I found AA and then Al-Anon, thinking if I had found Al-Anon first I may never have crossed over that invisible line into alcoholic drinking.

    Then I remind myself that God's plan and timing for my life is exactly as it was meant to be. Then I am at peace and all is well

    PG

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  9. I love stuff like this..it is rich with history from a different time. Am glad you are back too..feeling better?

    Namaste

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  10. It really is a blessing to be able to read you on a regular basis Syd. Thank you for sharing yourself with us.

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  11. You always tie the most interesting things in with your posts on recovery!!

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  12. Loved this post -- so poignant

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  13. Wouldn't that make a wonderful documentary? It would be fascinating to know the complete story...of the ones who found the note, etc ! Thanks, Syd.

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  14. this post reminds me of true gratitude....Sarah

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  15. Pretty amazing how things we take for granted can still flourish in such hostile environments, whether that's science in totalitarian regimes or religion in atheistic societies. You will be far from the last one to arrive, but I'm glad that you'll be here to welcome the one's still coming!

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Let me know what you think. I like reading what you have to say.