Jerry and I live about five miles from one of the beaches along the coast which stretches the entire length of North and South America. When we walk or drive along the beach we often see people fossicking for shells or scanning the sand with hand-held metal detectors for coins or other small treasures.
In the near future, remains of the tsunami in Sendai, Japan in March, 2011 are expected to start washing up on our shores. Boards from people’s houses. Tatami mats. Clothing. Tin pans and potholders. Eyeglasses. Perhaps a hairbrush. A child’s shoe. A lacquer bowl. A purse intact with keys, billfold, pictures of the grandchildren. Games, DVDs, toys, dolls. A gold wedding band.
I appeal to beachcombers: if you come across anything, especially something of monetary or sentimental value, that may have been part of the lives of Japanese victims of the triple disaster of March 11, 2011, please don’t keep it! No one knows how much of this flotsam will reach our shores but please consider every bit of it as someone else’s property and handle it honorably.
Perhaps each beach community can set up secure bins for these things, with bubble wrap and tape to wrap fragile ones in. Beachgoers who find any item can attach a note to it giving the place and date of the find. They may want to add a personal greeting, wish, prayer, even a photo of themselves and contact information.
At some point the collected items can be taken to the nearest Japanese consulate or embassy to be shipped back to Sendai. There, some of the items may be recognized and retrieved by surviving family members. Can you imagine what it would mean to those who lost everyone they loved and everything they owned to have something, however small, restored to them? A child’s favorite stuffed animal? The marked collar of a pet? A family heirloom?
The rest of what is recovered could become the nucleus of a 2011 Tsunami Victims’ Memorial Museum.
We could call it OPERATION KAIFUKU or the English equivalent, OPERATION RESTORATION.