How the Tachikawa Program Changed My Life
Bob Fredericks - Tachi kid 1967
How has the Tachikawa program changed my life? Oh, let me count the ways. But actually, I'd rather tell a story. The purpose of the International Sister Cities Movement, inaugurated by President Eisenhower, was to foster international understanding through the exchange of people to people, to nurture good between people, until the day when conflict between nations would be unthinkable. The business author and speaker Steven Covey uses the expression, "Emotional Deposits."
Think of an older middle-aged man in 1963. He is known as a gruff old bear, an equal opportunity chew your rear end type of guy. Tight and frugal. He was also embittered. His first wife had died in childbirth in the midst of the Great Depression and he was left with a baby daughter. The joy and love of his life was gone, happiness snuffed out.
It's post World War II. Feelings are still running hot for some after the war. Into his life comes a young, polite, gracious Japanese boy who comes into not only his home but his heart as his family hosts this young man. The boy's father had owned a small fleet of fishing vessels before World War II, all of which were confiscated by the Japanese government for the war effort and destroyed in the war. This family now lived in a small home no larger than an American double car garage in a warren of such homes next to the railroad tracks. The father was now simply a mechanic in the motor pool at the American air base in Tachikawa.
So touched was the man that he gave $50 a month for 4 years to the young man to finance his college education. Think back to 1963 dollars and the 360 yen/dollar exchange rate. With such generosity and such appreciation, how can the peoples of two nations, of any such nations with an ongoing exchange of people so touching lives for decades, go to war again?
The man was my father, Arthur Frederick, and the young man was my late Japanese brother, Kazuo Ogawa.