Tsunami-March 11, 2011

Ofunato, Japan

Ofunato Flag

It is not possible to know what entered the mind of Takeshi Hirata one day in 2008 as he surveyed his town where he was a city council member.  We only know that he became inconsolably alarmed by the spot where the town’s elementary school was located.  “This area is in great danger and it takes too long to evacuate the school”, he complained.  The town’s elementary school was a three story building and he had a visceral concern for the length of time it took to get the children down from the second and third floors.

He gave the problem considerable thought and approached the council and then the town itself.  Donations were gathered to construct his solution….long ramps from the top two stories straight to the road that led to a mountain.  Remember, the year was 2008.  The ramps were built and it was those ramps that saved the lives of the town’s youngest inhabitants, even as their parents and their homes perished in the enormous wall of water that swallowed everything in its path.  In some areas, the wall of water reached one hundred feet in height.  Nothing in its path could survive.

As fate would have it, Mr. Hirata’s five year old grand daughter was one of the survivors.  She was two years old when her grandfather was gripped by his persistent thought that he had to do something, something important, and do it soon.  On March 11, 2011, in the aftermath of the tsunami, the teachers and children of that school would have liked to thank Mr. Hirata for his vision, his heroic persistence, and his ramps.  But as fate would also have it, he had died nine days earlier on March 2nd of natural causes, age 65.

This is a true story. If it touched something in you, please pass it along to others.  There is something greater than ourselves out there.  Stories such as this one help to prove that.