At 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945, Sadako Sasaki was just a little girl playing with her big brother, Masahiro, in Hiroshima. At that time the United States dropped the A-bomb on the city, and by the end of December of that year over 140,000 people had died. Over the years, many more would die of illnesses caused by the radiation of the bomb. Sadako survived the initial blast of the A-bomb, but in 1954 she was diagnosed with A-bomb illness and entered the hospital. In August she received a gift: a string of paper cranes that some high school students in Nagoya had made for her. The nurse told her that the paper cranes were lucky, and supposedly if you folded 1,000 paper cranes, your wish would come true. Sadako folded over 1,000 paper cranes, but paper cranes are no match for radiation sickness, and she died. However, paper cranes can be a powerful symbol for peace—something that is widely believed to be much better for children than war. Of course, this is a lesson that is learned in every war, then forgotten, only to be learned again in the next war. Japanese schoolchildren raised money for a Children’s Peace Monument in Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park. The message at the base of the monument says this: “This is Our Cry / This is Our Prayer / For Building Peace in the World.” At the top of the Children’s Peace Monument is a statue of a young girl holding high a very large folded crane.
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