Tsunami Memorial Bound for Milwaukee

Visitors to Milwaukee's Harley-Davidson Museum can don a leather jacket, view the colorful tank wall, and study rows of classic motorcycles made by the company from 1903 to the present. And soon they'll be invited to think of the March 2011 tsunami's devastation of northeastern Japan, as well, because Harley-Davidson announced May 25 that it will display a wrecked 2004 FXSTB Softail Night Train bike that was found washed ashore on British Columbia's Graham Island more than a year later. A Canadian named Peter Mark found the motorcycle and other items belonging to Ikuo Yokoyama, 29, inside an insulated cargo van container in which he had stored them prior to the tsunami; it had drifted more than 4,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean.

Harley-Davidson's release said once Yokoyama was located, it offered to return the bike to him. He lost his home in the disaster and lives in temporary housing in Miyagi Prefecture, according to the company, and so he asked for the motorcycle to be preserved in the museum as a memorial to the more than 15,000 people who died.

"It is truly amazing that my Harley-Davidson motorcycle was recovered in Canada after drifting for more than a year," Yokoyama said, according to the release. "I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt appreciation to Peter Mark, the finder of my motorcycle. Due to circumstances caused by the disaster, I have been so far unable to visit him in Canada to convey my gratitude. Since the motorcycle was recovered, I have discussed with many people about what to do with it. I would be delighted if it could be preserved in its current condition and exhibited to the many visitors to the Harley-Davidson Museum as a memorial to a tragedy that claimed thousands of lives. I am very grateful to Harley-Davidson for offering me an opportunity to visit the museum, and I would like to do that when things have calmed down. At the same time, I would like to meet Peter, who recovered my motorcycle, to express my gratitude. Finally, I would like to thank all people around the world once again for their wholehearted support of the areas hit by the earthquake and tsunami. I would like to ask them to help convey messages from the Japanese people about the tragedy of the Great East Japan Earthquake, which was a disaster of historic proportions."

Mark and his friends took the motorcycle to Victoria, B.C. with help from Ralph Tieleman and Steve Drane of Steve Drane Harley-Davidson, and it now is in the hands of Deeley H-D Canada in Vancouver as plans are made for its transfer to the museum. "I've always felt Harley-Davidson motorcycles have a soul, and their owners obviously have an emotional attachment to their bikes. I just wanted to reunite this bike with its owner," said Drane.

Posted by Jerry Laws on May 29, 2012