Sadako Sasaki was born in Hiroshima, Japan, in 1943, two years before the bomb was dropped on August 6, 1945. She didn't show any effects of the radiation until ten years later when she developed leukemia. A dear friend came to the hospital and shared with her an ancient Japanese legend. The story held that those who fold a thousand paper cranes will have a long life, since cranes are a symbol of longevity.
Sadako began folding cranes in hopes of healing her illness. She folded day after day, but died on October 25, 1955 after completing six hundred and forty-four cranes. Her classmates completed folding the thousand cranes so that the origami tokens could be buried with her.
|Many young people in Japan were touched by Sadako's story. They collected money to erect a statue of her holding a golden crane in her up stretched arms. The statue was placed in the Hiroshima Peace Park atop the Mountain of Paradise in 1958. Dedicated to her and all the other children who died from the bomb, the statue is engraved with these words:
This is our cry,
Millions of Peace Cranes have been sent to Hiroshima in the ensuing years to honor one little girl's courage and her dream of folding a thousand paper cranes. Because of this child, people the world over have come to understand that this tragedy must never happen again and that peace must come to the world.