Saturday, May 7, 2011

Taking care of the graves with respect and sincerity

This is the burial site for about 350 people died from the earthquake and the tsunami disaster in Higashi Matsushima City, Miyagi Prefecture. There are a group of men who take care of the graves. They pour the water for flowers and level the mound by hands. After that work, they give silent prayers and move to the next mound. They are the employees of three construction companies in the city. Grave markers are in line with flowers and offerings neatly placed in front.

These three construction companies are in charge of digging up the ground for temporary burial and reburial to the permanent grave. Right after the disaster, they were fully occupied just to bury the victim’s bodies delivered there one after another. The grave markers were in disorder and the mounds were uneven. When the chaos of burying the victims somehow became settled, the employees voluntarily decided to straighten up the graveyard.

The families of the deceased express the great appreciation for their sincere attitude in caring the graves.
There are 20 men in total, and some are young in their twenties. There are some who lost their own families, and five among them come to work from the evacuation center. No one complain or gripe about the job. The supervisor (63) said, “The young people might realize the importance of mourning the dead. I know they cry when they go home. It is a hard job. They are working very hard bearing the sorrow and pain.”

Now their schedules are tight with reburials, but they try to find slightest time to come and care for the graves. “We must pay the respect,” a man said and went back to his work.

Sankei Shimbun, May 3, 2011

Translated by Makiko Tajima Asano