In Hiroshima Peace Park, built to commemorate the victims of the first nuclear attack, there is a statue of a young girl holding a golden origami crane. On its base are inscribed these words: “This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace in the world.” The memorial was built by the efforts of the classmates of Sadako Sasaki, the subject of that statue, who was only two years old when the United States dropped the nuclear bomb, code-named “Little Boy,” about a mile from where Sadako lived.
Ten years after Little Boy decimated Hiroshima, Sadako, like so many other Japanese children, came down with leukemia as a result of her exposure to radiation. The prognosis for anyone with leukemia in those days was “terminal.” There was no hope. A friend of Sadako’s, Chizuko Hamamoto, visiting her in the hospital, reminded the suffering girl of a Japanese fable; if one folded a thousand paper cranes, the gods would grant their wish. Then Chizuko picked up a gold-colored piece of paper and folded a crane, telling Sadako, “Here is your first one.”
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And just to drive the point home, check back on this post and this one.