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Courage beyond words

Updated on September 29, 2012

Japan's crisis

The ultimate sacrifice

It isn't often that you see the fate of humanity hanging in the balance but it is unfortunately a tragic reality and many of us have been spared luckily from disasters both natural and man made but we have been witness to many very sad events that have occurred in our lifetime. It is very painful to see the horrors and the devastation that result when nature clashes with our world as evidenced by earthquakes, tsunamis and hurricanes. We have also learned of or been witness to atrocities of genocide, nuclear attack and terrorism inflicted by mankind. As much as we wish we could go back in time and undo the mistakes of the past we realize that sadly it is impossible and worse yet they have been repeated in our life time.

The typical response of humanity at times like this is to help and do something good to alleviate and ease the pain and suffering of people and though we can't change what has happened we can try to lend a helping hand even if it is only by way of a small donation. We must realize that for so many if they happen to survive the tragedies their lives will never be the same and they will live with heavy hearts for the rest of their lives and any little bit of compassion and humanity we can offer at their greatest time of need certainly will help.

We have all been witness to the recent events taking place in Japan half a world away in the last week with the 9.1 magnitude earthquake of Friday, March 11, 2011 followed by the overwhelming tsunamis that swept up everything in its path including whole towns and villages with no mercy. No one could ever prepare for such devastation and destruction and for those who survived, it will be a long and painful road ahead with so much uncertainty in the near term. It is estimated to date that close to 16,000 people have perished and that is surely going to rise with the clean up efforts continuing.

Living through disaster is frightening and extremely painful both physically and emotionally and usually an earthquake is the significant catastrophe to have to deal with but Japan is facing the aftermath of three major catastrophes two of which are natural and one which is man made that collectively are hypothetically hard to conceptualize occurring all at once but the very sad and painful reality is that this is very real and Japan is now bracing for the possibility of a nuclear meltdown at the nuclear plants that were struck by the tsunamis knocking out the generators and the backup support systems. If this was scripted for a Hollywood movie it would seem to be too dramatic to believe.

It has been said that at the most dire of times there is a gleaming hope that comes about when at the most difficult of times man kind is truly tested and there are moments of great courage and heroism that rises up to restore our faith and hope in our people. It is not always that we see it but when we do it is very special. We've seen it on September 11th when without hesitation emergency workers, firemen, police officers, EMTs and so many others went into harms way knowing they were putting their lives on the line trying to help those in distress. By doing so many men and women perished that day doing what they knew was the only thing to do. It was the ultimate sacrifice.

Again we hear of this ultimate sacrifice again today as employees of TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) are working desperately in shifts to try to cool the disabled nuclear plants that are facing possible meltdown and significant leaking of harmful gamma ray radiation into the atmosphere. They are putting their lives in jeopardy by exposing themselves to these lethal doses of radiation and most of them have resigned themselves to this fate that they may not survive as they realize the significant importance of their mission which is to prevent a nuclear catastrophe and help save the lives of the people of their great and proud nation. They have families and they know very well that they are not in a good place right now and they are embarking on a potential "suicide assignment" to save mankind. This is the ultimate sacrifice that one can make and an extraordinary act of selflessness that anyone could ever do for their fellow man.

As I hear what these employees are doing I am thinking that this is something you will hardly ever see and when you witness such courage, bravery and heroism unfold it makes you realize that when things seem so hopeless and bleak there are truly very special people who step up and put their lives on the line no matter what so others will have a chance. This is the most special of qualities one could ever possess and it is the ultimate sacrifice they could ever make.

I will pray for these brave souls that they will find a way to control these plants preventing the catastrophes that are of concern and bring things under control and that their lives will be spared and they will experience the appreciation of their country and of mankind and they will get to go home to their families and come through it and live in good health. May God be with them as they complete the single most important mission of their lives. 

Edward D. Iannielli III

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