Japan - sadness and Hope.
I have witnessed the fear, panic and heartbreak that an earthquake delivers.
I was in Mexico City soon after leaving the military on the morning of Sept. 19,1985.
The morning that the 8.1 earthquake destroyed most of the downtown area of our city.
I saw the destruction that Mother nature was able to unleash.
Over 10,000 people died in that earthquake, thirty thousands more were injured and thousands were left homeless.
After the 3 minute long earthquake was done - it had leveled 3,000 buildings and destroyed another 100,000.
The earthquake in Japan brings back many of these same sad memories.
This catastrophe has hit a really special, and unique country.
My love of Japanese culture, architecture and food go back quite a while.
In high school I was fascinated with their famous Samurai warriors, their traditional Buddhist monks and beautiful geishas.
I was mesmerized by their elaborate wooden temples and beautiful pagodas.
Along the way I was fortunate to have befriended several people of Japanese descent.
In the military I had a strong ally in a Lieutenant Hirochi and a very funny Capt. Saburo.
Years later I have been blessed to know a prodigal pianist named Toku.
He is now a professor of music in Boston.
Today Japan, the third-largest economy in the world is showing the rest of the world that it is a brave and resilient country.
It is facing, if you can imagine the kind of devastation and disruption on a scale of what it faced soon after the end of world war two.
My good friend Toku reaasurred me that the resilience of his people, instilled patrioitism, along side their phenomenal work ethic and community spirit, will make it possible to rebuild and come back even stronger then they were before the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami.
Toku over the years has told me about their noble sense of perseverance and stoicism, and how orderliness is something that is ingrained from a young age.
These qualities are going to be vital to their rebuilding.
Toku mentioned a common Japanese word for that way of thinking or spirit.
He called it, “gaman” which means something like “toughing it out.”
I am praying that our Japanese brothers and siters will "tough it out" and together overcome all that they are facing.
A distance of 6,000 miles, seems far… but I know that millions of us are holding them close to our hearts and we are there in spirit.
My heart is with Toku and his family.
We here at home are praying for Japan and the Japanese people.
It's painful to think about the 18,000 victims, and all of the people still missing, and the 750,000 still without electricty, sparse food supplies, and drinking water.
I feel rather helpless not being able to do anything for them, except pray.
I am asking you to pray for their recovery as well and to please donate to the Red Cross.
This morning I am also praying that they continue to be blessed with that sense of "gaman."