PASADENA, CALIFORNIA – Twenty students from Miyagi Prefecture were among the thousands of people who took part Thursday in the 126th Parade of Roses in Pasadena, California.
A float sponsored by Honda Motor Co.’s U.S. unit featured students from the disaster-hit Tohoku region who are participating in a two-week cultural exchange in Southern California.
Seventeen-year-old Satsuki Koizumi, whose grandmother’s home was washed away, said she was very grateful for the help the United States provided in the aftermath of the 3/11 disasters.
Nearly four years after the earthquake and tsunami, Koizumi met some of the American servicemen and women who participated in rescue and relief efforts in Tohoku during Operation Tomodachi.
On behalf of the people of Tohoku, she thanked the eight U.S. servicemen and servicewomen who would ride the Honda float during an informal ceremony on New Year’s Eve, the day before the parade.
“We are recovering step by step with your heartwarming support and assistance,” she said. “Thank you with all my heart.”
While meeting the students for the first time, Capt. Geoffrey Moore, commanding officer of a U.S. Navy helicopter squadron that took part in Operation Tomodachi, said: “I don’t know if we were able to directly help any of them (the students), but to bring some kind of support and knowing the hardships they’ve endured has been incredible.
“I love the Japanese spirit and resilience, and you can see the students really embody that,” he added.
The students marched alongside the Honda float performing a song composed for the parade by Grammy Award-winning Hawaii composer Daniel Ho.
The Honda float was one of 39 that took part in the parade, which also featured 20 marching bands and 18 equestrian units.
Among them was the Koriyama Honor Green Band, made up of 18- to 25-year-olds from Yamatokoriyama, Nara Prefecture. They were the 19th band from Japan to march in the parade since 1981.