What happened in Japan is truly awful. In the wake of a devastating earthquake that shook the island nation to its very core lies destruction, loss of life and a solemn emptiness that will be felt for generations.

That’s the soul of the Japanese — they care for their own in unimaginable ways. From the manner in which they treat their country’s elderly (many remain with their families to their last days, not in institutions) to their disciplined work ethic, there is much to be admired. Just look at the story of those fearless 50 who, as I write this, are dug in deep into a nuclear reactor core, trying to defuse that situation.
 
But another soul was laid bare this week in response to the tragedy — the benevolent, giving spirit of the American people. From our government to individuals such as The Hill readers, each gives of his or her time, talents and fortunes to help a people half a world away. Even $10 at a time makes a world of difference.
 
For example, hours after the quake struck, American churches were mobilizing. The Church of Seventh-day Adventists set up relief stations for Japanese commuters who were trapped in subway cars due to loss of electrical power.
 
That’s what makes me proud to be an American. We don’t think to step up and step into the middle of the devastation. Our emergency response crews are on the next planes out of the country. The teams from Fairfax, Va. — I swear they must live on planes and in vehicles — driving from one disaster area to the next.
 
We saw it in Haiti, New Zealand and now in Japan. The American sense of giving is seemingly bottomless.
 
And that’s what the world needs right now. I’m not talking about a renewed sense of American exceptionalism. Forget that claptrap for now. I’m talking about a plain, God-fearing sense of giving. Of love for a brother. No love is greater.
 
So let’s celebrate that today, even as we mourn for a nation in the throes of despair.