Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A thousand paper cranes

from w,
Today I was talking with a young man at the Geelong Hospital, ready to go home after about five months in hospital. I noticed coloured papers hanging on the wall near his bed, thinking they were salusalu (garlands), but no, on a closer look they were paper cranes. He said his Japanese cousin made them for him over a period of three months. What a lovely gift. Then I looked up the story of the paper cranes and here it is and it started with two terrible atomic bombs dropped in Japan in August 1945.

One Thousand Paper Cranes for Peace: The Story of Sadako Sasaki

Thanks to one young Japanese girl, Sadako Sasaki and one thousand paper cranes, millions of people around the world are coming together in peace. Here is her story.

On August 6th, 1945, World War II’s Allied forces dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. In an instant, the city was obliterated. When the dust had cleared, people’s shadows remained frozen in place on sidewalks and the sides of buildings. The people themselves simply vanished. On that tragic day, 140,000 civilians were killed.

The Sasaki family lived one mile from the spot where the bomb went off. The couple and their two-year-old daughter, Sadako, managed to survive the nuclear attack. Though the family tried to protect themselves, they could not avoid breathing the contaminated air. But when Sadako was twelve years old, she noticed that her lymph nodes were becoming swollen. A doctor’s visit confirmed her parents’ greatest fears: Sadako had been contaminated with radiation poisoning. In August 1955, residents of Nagoya sent a gift of colored origami paper cranes to Sadako and the other hospital residents as a get-well present. The gift brightened the sick child’s day – and it gave her an idea.

“She believed in a saying that if you fold a thousand cranes, you’d get over your sickness,” her mother wrote. “She folded paper cranes carefully, one by one using a piece of paper of advertisement, medicine and wrapping. When she got to one thousand, she kept on going, hopeful that the paper birds might magically cure her illness. But it was not to be: Sadako died on the morning of October 25, 1955.

Although Sadako’s thousand paper cranes could not save her life, they would take flight in another way, serving as a symbol of the growing movement for peace on Earth. Each year, children and adults from all over the world travel to the Children’s Peace Monument, bringing their own folded paper cranes as a gift to Sadako’s memory, and as a symbol of their desire for peace and for the abolition of nuclear weapons.



Blogger annie said...

This beautiful story always touches my heart whenever I hear ... Let's hope that the world will follow Sadako's prayer for peace and for abolition of nuclear weapons.

4:01 PM  

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