Saturday, April 25, 2015

Cuba Part 3: “A Message to Garcia”

"In all this Cuban business, there is one man who stands out on the horizon of my memory like Mars at perihelion. When war broke out between Spain and the United States, it was very necessary to communicate quickly with the leader of the insurgents. Garcia was somewhere in the mountains of Cuba - no one knew where. No mail or telegraph message could reach him. The President must secure his cooperation, and quickly. What to do! Some one said to the President, "There’s a fellow by the name of Rowan who will find Garcia . . ." - Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915)

Speaking of Cuba, I cannot forget the above quote from “A Message to Garcia” written a little before 1900 by Elbert Hubbard. I read it in the 1986 best seller Letters of a Businessman to His Son by G. Kingsley Ward (1932-2014). Mr. Ward was an ex-PricewaterhouseCoopers accountant turned successful entrepreneur in Canada. After having multiple heart surgeries, he felt a dire need to leave messages for his son.

Upon the publication of his paternal messages, and despite his reluctance, the book hit the market as the businessman’s bible, joining the ranks of Dale Carnegie’s and Napoleon Hill’s books. I read the Japanese translation hand-carried by the translator Saburo Shiroyama as a souvenir when he came to San Diego to interview my then employer. Apparently he was so deeply impressed with G. K. Ward that translating the book became his mandate. Shiroyama passed away in 2007.

It seems that “A Message to Garcia” by Hubbard came out originally as a pamphlet that was a little over 10 pages. It was so popular that it was distributed among the Russian soldiers sent to Siberia during the Russo-Japan War. The pamphlet became known to the Japanese through Russian captives, and it was immediately translated and distributed to top ranking Japanese officers.

To answer the call of President McKinley, Lt. Andrew Rowan acted immediately and set out to Kingston, Jamaica to take a fishing boat from St. Ann’s Bay to a Cuban beach near Sierra Maestra. He then trekked through the mountains heading for Yara and rode a horse to the general’s quarters where he succeeded to meet General Garcia and hand delivered the President’s message. I luckily found Lt. Rowan’s report online titled “How I carried the message to Garcia” (Foundation Magazine).

G.K. Ward admonished that General Garcia may be gone but there are still many General Garcias in the world to whom messages must be delivered. Could you be an Andrew Rowan? Employers need to hire a go-getter type person like Rowan who doesn't question why or how and make excuses.

I did a search online for “A Message to Garcia” in Japanese, in the hopes that I could find the Japanese translation that was actually distributed by the Meiji Government to top ranking officers during the Russo-Japan War. Instead I found the new Heisei translation advertised as an Amazon self-help book - a best selling item, teaching self-motivation on how to become a dependable person. Elbert Hubbard is still being lauded for over a century in Japan.

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