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    A person’s good-will changes the life of a boy / 一人の少年の人生を変えた善意

    A person’s good-will changes the life of a boy

    Photo By Yoshie Makiyama | Tanahara in the middle on the left picture smiles before departing for Hawaii and him...... read more read more



    Story by Yoshie Makiyama 

    Marine Corps Installations Pacific

    In 1957, Okinawa was still under the supervision of the United States little over a decade after World War II, one American, Forest Long, who worked as a civil engineer for the U. S. Marine Corps saw a 10-year old Okinawan child in a field in Kitanakagusuku village. This became a rather miraculous encounter to this boy that would change the child’s life forever.

    The child, Seisho Tanahara, now 73, a native of Adaniya Kitanakagusuku, was born with congenital abnormalities. Long was around the area with his girlfriend one day and witnessed a child crawling on the dirt chasing other children. The child was playing with his neighbors.

    Long saw the child’s deformed legs and understood why he had to crawl. Long wanted to help the child and visited the child's house and talked with his mother. According to Tanahara, he was out playing by himself when Long visited his mother. He couldn’t go to school because of his disability with walking.

    Tanahara recalled that night when his mother asked him if he wanted to accept the offer of Long's help, he answered “yes” without hesitation.
    Long searched for hospitals all over Okinawa. However, unfortunately there was no hospital capable of doing such an operation in Okinawa. Long was at a loss and turned the matter to the Shrine Club which he was a member of.

    Formerly known as the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine for North America, the Shriners International is a fraternity that has clubs around the world and supports Shriners Hospitals for Children.

    The other Shriners supported his request and contacted Shriners Hospital in Hawaii. They explained the conditions of the child’s legs and sent X-rays. The response from the hospital was favorable for the child. Less than a year since Long first saw the boy crawling in the field, young Tanahara was on a plane heading to Hawaii as the first child who was sent to the Shriners Hospital from Okinawa.

    “No fear. I only had hopes,” Tanahara said while looking back to his feeling of the time. He had no negative thought about the operation or being away from his family in another country.

    In Hawaii, however, when he woke up in the hospital bed the next day, he finally understood that he was in a foreign nation. “Oh, no!” was what young Tanahara thought.

    A month after Tanahara went to Hawaii, he had the first operation. According to Tanahara, there were seven to eight operations in three years until his legs were restored well enough for him to stand and walk on his feet with little support.

    When he stood on both feet by himself for the first time, he remembered he was a bit scared and thought he might fall.

    While staying in Hawaii, he also attended school. It was his first time studying either Japanese or English. According to Tanahara, he studied a couple of hours in the morning and another couple of hours in the afternoon. He doesn’t remember when he started speaking English fluently. “After five or six months, I noticed that I have been speaking English all the time without realizing it.”

    He enjoyed watching TV. He remembered when he saw Superman on TV in the few days after he got to Hawaii, he thought no wonder they won the war. He was only 10 at this time. His favorite shows were about cowboys and he really loved beef stew. According to Tanahara, only potatoes and beans were on their table three times a day in Okinawa.

    In 1960, Tanahara came back to Okinawa. A lot of service members who were in the Shriners came to welcome him at the airport. They were the goodwill people who supported him financially with the club after Long sought for the help three years ago.

    The life after Hawaii was one of a kind. Since he was educated only in English, he couldn’t attend a Japanese school. With the support of The Shrine Club, Tanahara entered Christian School. He graduated when he was 22. He was also hired at the Army hospital working at a laboratory.
    He continued studying another four years to be a qualified medical technician. After working 40 years at the hospital, Tanahara retired from Navy Hospital at 62.

    “This happened because I was not isolating myself from society. When I couldn’t walk and some people called me names such as Pochi, a common pet name for dog in Japanese, but I was still outgoing and played with my friend outside the house. That is why Mr. Long happened to see me that day,” Tanahara reflected on the event.



















    Date Taken: 07.10.2020
    Date Posted: 07.14.2021 20:16
    Story ID: 400775
    Location: OKINAWA, JP

    Web Views: 150
    Downloads: 0