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Firemen's relay road race across the country one and a half years after the disaster

At 2:00 p.m. on September 11th, the last runner of a relay road race crossed the goal at Ishinomaki fire department with a sash that had been handed over from fireman to fireman across the country.

【Photo: Mr. Muto, a member of the relay road race planning committee, and JEN's staff】

【Photo: The very moment of finishing】

The relay road race started from the city of Kagoshima on March 11, which was planned by firemen volunteers across the country in order to encourage the local fire department, firemen and their families who have been inflicted by the Great East Japan Earthquake. With a hope for recovery in mind, a total of 8,124 firemen runners ran 4,881 kilometers passing the sash across one city government and 25 prefectures.

Mr. Kazuyoshi Noda(43 year old) and three officials of Ishinomaki fire department were in charge of the last leg of the relay race; He worked for Onagawa fire department at the time of the disaster and not only four fellow workers of his were killed or among missing but also he himself was badly injured. Finishing the goal line, Mr. Noda, deputy commander, said "I feel strong gratitude toward all the firemen who relayed the sash and all the people who supported us. We could feel and deepen a bond with firemen across the nation through the relay road race."

【Photo: the finisher, deputy commander Mr. Noda】

Citizens living in temporary housing and children in the neighborhood arrived on the scene to cheer firemen runners.

【Photo: Residents of the fourth Minamisakai temporary housing】

【Photo: Ms. Sakagami and pupils of the second Minato primary school practice singing.】

After the last runner hit the goal, all the people gathered took a commemorative photo. At the end, Meiko Sakagami sang "Thank you Fire Fighter", the theme song of musical, "Fireman's prayer", together with citizens and pupils with tears in their eyes.

The relics to "Thank you Fire Fighters." go like this.
Those words can never say what you mean to us,
Thank you Fire Fighters, for all the things you do
it's not just a job.....but a way of life.
These words are what we truly feel, it's all we have.
We give you from our hearts, from deep inside of us,
what mere words can not reveal.
NO matter what may happen, when our homes are up in flames
You don't even know our names, but you come through.....
'Tho your family understands, something it's all in vain.
They will always have you on their minds, They feel your stress
and in their dreams, they feel your pain.
Fear is not a part of what you're made of, not at all.
Danger is your companion, it's part of what you do.
Everyday risking your life to save others when you get the call.
I say "Thank you,""Arigato,"I say "Thank you."
Thank You Fire Fighters,

【Photo: Ms.Sakagami and children singing "Thank you Fire Fighters"】
In his address of thanks, Mr. Hoshi, the fire chief of Ishinomaki fire department, said "My heart was full to hear that Kagoshima was not only among the first to send the search party from its fire department to Ishinomaki but also was where the relay road race started. Here in Ishinomaki, still shy of eight hundred people are missing, among them are four fellow firemen of ours. As we could renew our courage today, we reiterate our determination to find out as many missing persons as possible." All the people who gathered there observed one minute's silence for the victims of the earthquake at 2:46 p.m. with the sound of the fire bell pulled out of the rubble ringing.


【Photo: Silent prayer at 2:46 p.m.】

The closing ceremony of the relay road race completed after its planning committee exhibited the sash stained with sweat of runners and Japan's national flag with messages from fishermen across the country.

【Photo: Japan's national flag with messages written on it】

This time the musical band of the fire department didn't give any performance using new donated instruments, because firemen continued their effort to search for missing people. We strongly hoped on that day that the day would come soon when we could listen to their spirited performance again.

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September 20, 2012 in Tohoku earthquake |