Eighty years ago, a missionary dispatched from Arcadia Methodist church decided to remain in the war zone during the atrocity of Nanjing China, had saved hundreds to thousand’s people’s lives.
Dr. Robert O. Wilson was born in Nanking on the 5th of October, 1906. The son of American missionaries, he attended college in the States and graduated from Princeton University. He received his medical degree from Harvard, in 1929, and returned to the city of his birth (now known as Nanjing) in 1936.
The following year, as Japanese soldiers drew ever-closer to Nanking, Wilson remained as a staff doctor at the University of Nanking Hospital. By the time the city fell, most of the other physicians had fled.
Wilson was the only surgeon left who could treat victims of the Nanking Massacre. His work at the hospital, and in the Safety Zone (which was established as an attack-free area), helped to save thousands of lives. He is the physician who is caring for patients in John Magee’s film (historical footage shot during the time of the massacre).
Like his colleagues, Wilson kept a diary of what he witnessed. He also wrote letters to his family about the horribly injured people he treated:
The slaughter of civilians is appalling. I could go on for pages telling of cases of rape and brutality almost beyond belief. Two bayoneted corpses are the only survivors of seven street cleaners who were sitting in their headquarters when Japanese soldiers came in without warning or reason and killed five of their number and wounded the two that found their way to the hospital. (Dr. Wilson’s letter to his family, 15 December 1937.)
Days later, Dr. Wilson wrote these words:
Let me recount some instances occurring in the last two days. Last night the house of one of the Chinese staff members of the university was broken into and two of the women, his relatives, were raped. Two girls, about 16, were raped to death in one of the refugee camps. In the University Middle School where there are 8,000 people the Japs came in ten times last night, over the wall, stole food, clothing, and raped until they were satisfied. They bayoneted one little boy of eight who have [sic] five bayonet wounds including one that penetrated his stomach, a portion of omentum was outside the abdomen. I think he will live. (Dr. Wilson’s letter to his family, 18 December 1937.) Currently his name is carved on the wall of Nanjing Massacre Museum, though few knows his name or story in his hometown. He is a symbol of how love and care is regardless of ethnicity, he is a servant of God, an American citizen as well as a humanitarian hero to the world, but for us Chinese people to say, he’ll be always remembered as one of us, “A blued eyed Nanjing citizen” ！ Today The Chinese American citizen wish to manifest their gratefulness to this American citizen who did such a courageous act and great deed in our father land, we hope to commemorate him by donating a simple monument placed in the court yard of his church in Arcadia.
Date: November 12th Sunday at 11:00 A.M Venue:United Methodist Church 400 W Durate Road, (Cross with Holly) Arcadia, CA 91007
We believe we will have a better tomorrow by carrying forward Dr. Wilson’s spirit of love and humanity, he is our civic pride, and we cordially looking forward for you presence!