Montevallo thinks of sister city

Published 2:42 pm Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dear Editor,

When opening day at the baseball field in small town Montevallo includes a moment of silence for a country 6,000 miles away, we are reminded that a great tragedy has occurred but also might question the significance of the event to this community.

The recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan caused movement not only in the geologic faults of Japan but also in the hearts of people all over the world who have come to know and love the Japanese people. We, in Montevallo are blessed to have forged a bond with Echizen, Japan in the form of a sister city relationship.

Thankfully, Echizen was not directly impacted by the quake, but we all held our breath as we awaited the news that our loved ones overseas were safe. It came in the form of a pop-up instant message on Facebook from Madeline Horne, of the Echizen International Affairs Office.

Shortly afterward, Montevallo Mayor Ben McCrory was able to reach Echizen Mayor Takanobu Seki by phone to offer his condolences for the county of Japan and indicate that a fund was being established in Montevallo to support the country’s rebuilding efforts.

The mayors collectively determined that these funds would be sent directly to Echizen, which would then distribute them to the areas of highest need in honor of the sister city relationship.

I was blessed with being drawn into this experience due to my position as a city council member.

We anticipated great cultural, educational and potentially even economic benefits. What we did not anticipate was the great sense of family that would evolve from our relationship.

Since the tragedy, we’ve had an outpouring of support from all corners of our community. Henry Emfinger, director and founder of the Aldrich Coal Mine Museum called out of concern for our sister city and offered his support for the city’s fundraising efforts. Terry Sutton, pastor of Montevallo First Baptist Church suggested that the Montevallo Sister City Commission host a table at the upcoming Montevallo Arts Festival. The Montevallo Arts Council president, Libbie Rodgers, readily agreed to donate the space.

I wasn’t hit by the magnitude of the impact that this has had on our community until I was watching my son on the field at our baseball day opening.

The players were announced, the national anthem was sung and then the announcer called for a moment of silence honoring our sister city and the many in Japan who have been impacted by this horrible event. In the crowd of people, you could have heard a pin drop. The round of applause that followed drove it home to me that relationships are what matters, on both personal and international levels.

Hollie Cost