“I will write peace on your wings, and you will fly all over the world.” – Sadako Sasak
One thousand paper cranes. That’s how many cranes Sadako Sasak planned to fold before her death on October 25, 1955. Her life was cut short after falling ill with leukemia. During World War II, there were atomic bombs dropped above her home town of Hiroshima. Although she didn’t die that day, the choices made by others due to hatred and anger affected countless others in her area. As she lay ill in her hospital bed, Sadako grew the strength to fold crane after crane, believing that after the thousandth fold, she might be granted a wish to be healed. This belief, known as senbazuru by the ancient Japanese, gave Sadako the ability to hold onto hope throughout her personal battle.
When she died, a statue was built in her honor in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. The Children’s Peace Monument still stands along with a few others in various locations such as the one above in The Seattle Peace Park and the one in The Peace Garden in Wales. I heard this story many years ago in grade school. During free reading periods, my teachers would allow the students to choose any book of their choice to read aloud. I can’t remember for sure, but I know there’s a very high possibility that I cried my eyes out after finding out that Sadako died. I thought that there was no way God would let her die. She was folding so many cranes, it was impossible that she would die before the thousandth crane. But, she did.
“It’s time to rest. You can make more birds tomorrow. Tomorrow… Tomorrow seemed such a long way off.” Pg. 61 of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes
The paper crane has always been a symbolic figure in my life. Although I didn’t know it, I’ve always been drawn to them. The crane is used to symbolize peace, but to me it symbolizes hope. Hope for the future. Hope for something better than what we already know. You have to have hope and you have to have faith to believe that one thousand folds of the paper crane will grant you a wish. Sadako Peace Day is usually held near August 9th each year by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. The story of Sadako and her strength inspires me daily.