Earthquake Mom Chain Letter Myth Debunked!

You may have seen on your Facebook feed, or elsewhere online, the above picture and following story.

This is a true story of Mother’s Sacrifice during the Japan Earthquake.

After the Earthquake had subsided, when the rescuers reached the ruins of a young woman’s house, they saw her dead body through the cracks. But her pose was somehow strange that she knelt on her knees like a person was worshiping; her body was leaning forward, and her two hands were supporting by an object. The collapsed house had crashed her back and her head.

With so many difficulties, the leader of the rescuer team put his hand through a narrow gap on the wall to reach the woman’s body. He was hoping that this woman could be still alive. However, the cold and stiff body told him that she had passed away for sure.

He and the rest of the team left this house and were going to search the next collapsed building. For some reasons, the team leader was driven by a compelling force to go back to the ruin house of the dead woman. Again, he knelt down and used his had through the narrow cracks to search the little space under the dead body. Suddenly, he screamed with excitement,” A child! There is a child! “

The whole team worked together; carefully they removed the piles of ruined objects around the dead woman. There was a 3 months old little boy wrapped in a flowery blanket under his mother’s dead body. Obviously, the woman had made an ultimate sacrifice for saving her son. When her house was falling, she used her body to make a cover to protect her son. The little boy was still sleeping peacefully when the team leader picked him up.

The medical doctor came quickly to exam the little boy. After he opened the blanket, he saw a cell phone inside the blanket. There was a text message on the screen. It said,” If you can survive, you must remember that I love you.” This cell phone was passing around from one hand to another. Every body that read the message wept. ” If you can survive, you must remember that I love you.” Such is the mother’s love for her child!! 

Sentimental. Yes. Moving. Sure. But true? Not so much. As it happens, it's completely bogus. It's all bunk. 

A shout out to my old college roommate Colin Rennie, a true humanitarian aid worker working in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, with his non-profit organization called the Mud Project. He is doing great things to help the people of Japan in anyway possible--but mainly by digging the mud out of people's homes, helping clean up all the rubble, rebuilding homes--and basically doing all the dirty grunt work, so to speak. Having witnessed the devastating aftermath of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami first hand, he has this to say about the chain letter:

This is a true story! Share! Once upon a time in 2008, some Chinese firefighters dug two bodies out of the debris of the earthquake in Sichuan (remember that? 68,000 people died, 4.8 Million were left homeless). Then in 2011 and again in 2012, someone made up a story about a mother dying to save her kid and everyone on the internet had a sentimental moment and shared the made up story with all their friends... then went back to checking their news feed.

There are plenty of REAL touching, heart breaking, inspirational stories here on the east coast of Japan, and in disaster afflicted areas around the world. So go ahead, love your mother, and do something to DIRECTLY help other people. Could be across the world, or they could need help next door.

At the end of the made up story, it said: "Dont forget to click the share button.."
It starts with a Share, but it doesn't end there. Don't forget to DO something. — at INJM Headquarters, ishinomaki, Japan.

There you have it folks, the myth of the Earthquake Mother debunked! Although the fiction is heart wrenching and emotionally touching, it's just completely untrue. Yet it managed to spread like wildfire. If a modern myth can spread so fast, what about ancient ones? 

Myths which people had no means of checking, mostly because they couldn't read, but also because they didn't have the powerful tools that we do today, such as books or the Internet and the ability to fact check. Yeah, I am looking at you Jesus of Nazareth! I am pretty certain that if the Internet existed in the 1st Century, the Jesus Resurrection myth would have been debunked just as quickly as this one was.

At any rate, I found this a good example of how a myth can get mistaken for truth almost overnight. But more importantly, I wanted to recognize the great humanitarian work my friend Colin is doing here in Japan. If you feel so compelled, you can click on the link and head over to the Mud Project page to lean more about what's going on and how you might be able to help. 


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