Editorís note: These are the speeches offered by representatives of the city of Yonezawa, Japan at the Sayonara Dinner held in their honor in Moses Lake last Friday.
Mr. Nakagawa, Masaru, Mayor, City of Yonezawa
I find that our effort to let this exchange program exist is quite a commitment for the citizens of both Moses Lake and Yonezawa. We are sending our children to each otherís cities every year. I see that this program is not only for us all in this room or for the children this year or next year Ė we are doing this for the next generation. Because the next generation is the one that is going to build our home cities; the next generation is the one that is going to build our countries. And the next generation is the one that we will continue to send to each otherís cities each year. Making our effort for this program, we are doing a favor for them, and ultimately we are doing a favor for us. These children will gain wisdom, learn the differences among cultures and learn to accept the differences. These children will make a better world, and will take up on that responsibility to do the world a favor. We owe them this responsibility. We have small children in this room tonight, and I see many people here who probably have children and grandchildren. We are building this value and spirit for them. While Iím in the office, this is a mission given to me to put better than a best effort to contribute to and strengthen our friendship stronger than ever. And Iíd also like to ask you, to give this program your continuous support. Itís such an honor that we are building a great future together.
We have come to the 36th year since this program took its first breath between our cities. If you would let me, come the 40th year, Iíd like to plant a tree as a token of our friendship in your Japanese Garden, and Iíd like you to plant another tree next to it with me. Iíd like to see how much these trees grow each year, making sure that our friendship deepens as the tree roots grow their foundation strongly into the earth.
Mr. Hokari, Masao, President of the Yonezawa newspaper
Iíd like to represent the people of Yonezawa, to express our deepest appreciation to the citizens of Moses Lake, and the people that have put their effort in this program in the 36 years of its long history. Our former president, Mr. Yukio Seino, and the previous and the original board members including Paul and Ginny Hirai, planted the seed of our friendship 36 years ago. So many people have been involved in this program with their diligent dedication, passion and love, nurturing the friendship up till today. Iíd like to send our thank-you to the original board members and the current board members, all the local businesses big or small, all the students that took part and their parents and siblings and the families that have given such dedication and love to host our children, letting them share your meals at your family tables, sharing good times and tears. All of these people have put their effort into this program, and have kept the momentum going. If we lacked just one person out of those people, I would not be standing here in front of you tonight, my friends. All of the above people have made this evening happen, and my heart is filled with such deep emotion tonight.
I have witnessed our children after experiencing this program. Those children have grown, and a lot of them are in the workforce of our nation. This program has been such a strong catalyst to their values on life Ė the unexplainable ďsomething preciousĒ that they have gained is a strong asset to what they do, what they live, what they dream today. I truly believe that my mission is to put my best effort to keep this program going, and Iím honored to take up on such responsibility. Iím hoping that you feel the same about keeping this program alive.
Mr. Shimanoki, Junichi, Chairman of the Yonezawa City Council
We came as 12 samurais on a mission with myself as the leader of this delegation. I had anticipated to find myself a nice keepsake, some cool American thing as a memory of this trip. And before I knew it, each and every person Iíve met through this trip filled my heart, and it is full. As you know, when your heart is full, you realize that you donít need anything material to hold on to. I have received so much more than I had ever imagined, and this is exactly what our children have been receiving through this program. What a wonderful thing. Itís an unforgettable experience. Tonight is our last night here in Moses Lake, and my heart is filled with such gratitude, at having been taken in as part of your family, and having been able to share this table filled with such a wonderful meal. Thank you so much.