Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Raising Beauty from the ashes: Japan and the wish for Peace

Sadako Sasaki (佐々木 禎子 Sasaki Sadako, January 7, 1943 – October 25, 1955) was two years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on August 6, 1945, near her home by Misasa Bridge in Hiroshima, Japan.  
Sadako was at home when the explosion occurred just one mile from Ground Zero. In January 1955, she was diagnosed with leukemia (her mother referred to it as "an atom bomb disease").  She was hospitalized on February 21, 1955, and given, at the most, a year to live.
There is an ancient Japanese story that promises that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by a crane.  Sadako decided to use her remaining time folding cranes and wishing for peace in the world. With her family around her, Sadako died on the morning of October 25, 1955 at the age of 12.  Some histories have her completing her work, while others state that she was only able to complete 640 cranes and that her classmates made the rest after her death.
Sadako's friends and schoolmates raised funds to build a memorial to her and all of the children who had died from the effects of the atomic bomb. In 1958, a statue of Sadako holding a golden crane was unveiled in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, also called the Genbaku Dome. At the foot of the statue is a plaque that reads:
"This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace on Earth."
Sadako and her thousand cranes have become a symbol of both the impact of nuclear war and the hope for peace. August 6 is celebrated in Japan as Peace Day, and Sadako is remembered for the wish she made.

This video shows (in a VERY slow way) how to make a paper crane.

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