Sadako and the Origami Cranes

18. Sadako and the Origami Cranes.jpg

On August 6, 1945 the United States dropped the first atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. There are differing opinions about our country’s culpability in exerting such destruction on so many people. As a child I told my father I thought what we did was wrong. He said, “This was the only way to end the war. Otherwise the Japanese would never give up.” 

The site of the bombing of Hiroshima is now Peace Memorial Park, located near the ruins of the one building left standing. There is a museum in that old building now, filled with artifacts from the time. Whenever any country or leader threatens to bomb again, the mayor of Hiroshima sends a hand-written note imploring the leaders to honor the decades of restraint. These notes are cast into metal tiles and each one becomes part of a model of that old, domed building.

Children from around the world still send bundles of origami cranes in honor of Sadoko, a young girl who was injured in the bombing and believed that if she could fold 1000 origami cranes, she would be granted her wish to live. A tall, elegant monument in the park has a figure of Sadoko standing atop it, arms outreached. Underneath is a stone chest holding the names of over 220,000 people who, in addition to Sadako, died during or after the blast. The thousands who visit the park every year are met by young Japanese students who, like the mayor, hand out hand written cards pleading for world peace.

There has never been another A Bomb, so in a way my father was right, the Japanese don’t give up. In this sacred place these good people will not give up their quest for peace.