From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

World War II’s ‘Tune of Hope’ may hold lessons for today’s Scouts

by Father Terence Tully, for the Inland Register

(From the Oct. 3, 2002 edition of the Inland Register)

Teenage youth and adult advisors crowd around Father Ed Marier, former diocesan Scout chaplain, during the Scout retreat – a Catholic Camporee – at Camp Cowles at Diamond Lake. (IR photo from the Diocesan Catholic Committee on Scouting)

It is time to tell again the best Scout story I have ever heard, a story told in this column on Nov. 16. 2000, about American prisoners of war working hard to lay railroad tracks along the Burma Road in 1943, during World War II. The Japanese were so desperate to get the job done that they drove their prisoners beyond human endurance, endangering their lives with not enough rest, not enough food and drink.

But one the Japanese guards realized that killing the workers was not the way to get the job done. He gave his work gang enough rest, food, and drink to keep them in shape.

He ran a risk of punishment for coddling his workers. He also did something that makes a Scout story out of this event.

He began to whistle a tune over and over. Some of his workers recognized the melody as the chorus of the theme song they heard in the World Scout Jamboree in The Netherlands (Holland) in 1937. The workers knew that their Japanese guard must have been a Scout at that Jamboree as they themselves had been.

They understood that the kindly treatment they received came from a fellow Scout. They did not dare show gratitude to the guard. Rules for the prisoners forbade them to speak to one another or to the guard – or even look at him.

One of their fellow prisoners was a journalist who eventually heard their story and wrote an article titled “Tune of Hope,” which appeared in the 1996 January-February issue of Scouting Magazine. The article was brought to my attention by my friend Chuck Fiske, who has an extensive collection of Scout memorabilia.

Why repeat this story now? Because the Scout spirit which showed itself so remarkably in the bitter conflict between Japan and the United States in World War II, may, God willing, show itself in the conflicts of warring nations this year and years to come.

My 1990 copy of Scouting ‘Round the World lists Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia as nations where the world movement of the Boy Scouts exists now, or existed in the past. As E-mail and other electronic means of communication bind parts of the world closer, we can pray that Scouts and their leaders will find ways to do their duty to God and help other people at all times.

The United States and Japan have had a friendly relationship for over 50 years. Maybe the mighty good deeds of the prison guard toward his former Jamboree buddies were helpful.

Workshops and Retreats

Deacon Steve Prawdzik has organized a series of workshops and retreats for Scout groups of all ages, as well as their adult leaders.

Immaculate Heart Retreat Center, located just south of Spokane, will be the site of this string of Scouting opportunities, beginning this month and extending well into 2003.

All of the events are scheduled for Saturdays, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

First up will be “Light of Christ” workshops, designed for younger Cub Scouts. That will be held Oct. 19, and will repeat on Dec. 14.

On Nov. 2 will be a Day of Prayer for Scouter Development – especially tailored for adult Scout leaders. That will repeat March 15, 2003.

Nov. 16 will be the first of two “Parvuli Dei” workshops, for older Cub Scouts. It is scheduled for Jan. 16 as well.

Skipping ahead to May 24-25, 2003, we find the weekend retreat for Cub Scouts and Tiger Scouts, set for Saturday and Sunday.

Cost of any of the events, whether for Scout or adult Scout leader, is $15, a fee which includes a workbook, lunch, handout materials, and a stipend for the retreat center.

For more information, contact Deacon Prawdzik: 324-2542 (work), 448-8934 (home, after 5 p.m.). E-mail:


For information on the Diocesan Catholic Committee on Scouting and its activities, contact Father Terence Tully, diocesan Scout chaplain, 221 E. Rockwood Blvd., Apt. 308, Spokane, WA 99202-1200, phone (509) 458-7674; or Joe Schmitz, chairperson of the Diocesan Catholic Committee on Scouting, 400 S. Jefferson, Suite 112, Spokane, WA 99204; (509) 747-7499. Click here for the National Catholic Committee on Scouting’s web site!

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