March 21, 2012
Reception in memory of the Great East Japan Earthquake held in Houston on March 21
On March 21, the Great East Japan Earthquake One Year Memorial Reception was held at the official residence of the Consul-General of Japan in Houston. Admiral Patrick M. Walsh USN (Ret.), former commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet along with many other guests from the states of Texas and Oklahoma were in attendance.
Consul-General Yamamoto briefed the guests on the current state of the country one year after the earthquake and expressed his gratitude for the support and encouragement shown by so many towards the victims of the disaster. (link) Following Consul-General’s remarks, Admiral Patrick M. Walsh, former commander of the Pacific Fleet gave the keynote speech drawing from his experience as commander of the United States Armed Forces assistance operation, Operation Tomodachi. Admiral Walsh quoted American author, Jacob Needleman, “Great ideas begin with an ache.” He related this to Operation Tomodachi, stating “Tomodachi taught us something we did not expect…it taught us what was possible.” Admiral Walsh remembered being told by a Japanese senior official “Your warm help will be cherished and forever engrained in the hearts and souls of the Japanese people.” Admiral Walsh responded, “The graciousness of the Japanese people will be cherished and forever engrained in our hearts.’’
In addition to Admiral Walsh’s keynote speech, the reception was an opportunity to receive messages from the various regions of Texas and Oklahoma. The Honorable Governor Rick Perry of Texas sent his best wishes and a promise that the people in Texas would continue to support the people of Japan. The Honorable Lieutenant Governor of Texas David Dewhurst sent a message that those who lost their lives in the tragedy will never be forgotten. The Honorable Governor of Oklahoma Mary Fallin sent a proclamation declaring the day of the reception, March 21, “Solidarity and Friendship (Makoto-no-Tomodachi) between the People of the State of Oklahoma and of Japan Day” in the State of Oklahoma and the Honorable Congressman of Texas Ted Poe declared March 21, ‘’A day to remember the first anniversary of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.”
After messages were read, a moment of silence was observed. Then Consul-General presented Admiral Walsh with a plaque which read, “With deep gratitude to Admiral & Mrs. Patrick M. Walsh, Japan is blossoming again.” The plaque was also engraved with the logo celebrating the Japan-U.S. Cherry Blossom Centennial.
As a way to remember the feelings of those affected by the disaster and to pray for reconstruction, all attendees received wristbands imprinted with the three Japanese characters for friendship, human bonds and gratitude. Attendees also enjoyed award winning Japanese wine and Tohoku sake. The four types of sake served were Sotenden from Miyagi prefecture, Nanbu Bijin from Iwate Prefecture, Ichinokura from Miyagi Prefecture and Shinjitsu from Fukushima Prefecture.