Listen on the go: Four Days investigation, narrated by Kevin Donovan and featuring the music of Kitarō Ōhira (for NPR Music), is a fascinating glimpse into the lives of an American couple and their Japanese-Canadian daughter, who fled war-torn Kobe just before the earthquake. Their story is one of extraordinary resilience and survival.
At an airport in Kobe, the family’s luggage was weighed and cataloged, the girls were sent to class for their final year of middle school. There they would be reunited with their father, and he would join them in the United States.
The parents were told that their four girls would stay with the aunt in Canada for the summer, but the children were packed up and told that they were going to live with their father in Washington state. When they finally reunited, they were in a car with their mother, who was crying. The family never thought they’d see them again.
We’re told they were only out of the city when the earthquake hit the afternoon of 6.6 on Tuesday, March 11, 2011. The family’s story of endurance is an extraordinary example of how one family, one little girl and six years of her life, became an American symbol of resilience and survival in the face of hardship.
They have since become an American symbol of resilience and survival in the face of hardship.
“We were really nervous about it,” says Kevin Donovan, a father of two, now a professor of journalism at the University of Florida. “When we got on the plane, we were all crying, but we were excited. We had worked hard to get here.”
I first met Kevin Donovan in 2012, at a time when his work was about to receive a national spotlight through the publication of his book, “The Last Rumsfeld,” and as a featured speaker at the annual New Voices Conference in New York, where his research was reviewed by a senior editor of New York magazine and a distinguished novelist.
By 2012, he had