Friday, August 7, 2009

The Legend of the Peace Crane

There's a story about a little girl who had leukemia, who was given a golden origami crane by her best friend while she was in the hospital.  Inspired by the legend he told her, that one who folded a thousand paper cranes would receive a wish, she began folding cranes.  She used discarded medicine wrappings, used wrapping paper from the gifts other children had been given, anything she could.

Her name was Sadako Sasaki, and she'd been two years old when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.  Radiation was the reason she had leukemia.  They say her original intention was to wish for her own health, but as she saw the other children around her dying, she knew she would, too.  Instead, she would wish for peace.

One version of her story says that she did not manage to finish her thousand cranes before she died.  Her friends finished for her and buried them with her.  A Hiroshima Peace Memorial exhibit said she did finish her thousand, and continued to fold more.

In one version of her story, she wrote a haiku that translates:
I shall write peace upon your wings, and you shall fly around the world so that children will no longer have to die this way.

A statue of her with a crane flying from her hand stands in Hiroshima's Memorial Peace park.  Visitors leave collections of a thousand origami cranes in her honor and memory.

I started writing this a while back, after creating my squidoo page on origami, because I am so taken by the story. Seemed the right time to post it, though I still don't feel I've done it justice.

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