A 1000 paper cranes

In a few days from now, it will be the 6th of August, the day, 66 years ago, that human beings used atom bombs (very powerful bombs) for the first time. On that day, US fighter jets dropped atom bombs on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The two countries (US and Japan) were fighting each other during World War II, which was taking place at that time.

The bombs destroyed Hiroshima and the people of the town started fleeing. Among them was two year old Sadako Sasaki, who, along with her family managed to escape from Hiroshima. But, unknown to them, Sasaki had already been affected by the bombs. Atom bombs release harmful waves of energy called radiation and this was what had affected the little girl.

But it was another ten years before the illness affected Sadako visibly (what can be seen). She was 12 years old when, suddenly, purple spots formed on her legs and parts of her body started swelling up. Doctors told her parents that she had a rare disease called leukemia and that she would die soon.

It was then that Sadako started folding paper to make cranes. She wanted to create a 1000 such cranes because she had heard an old Japanese story which said that anyone who folded paper to make a 1000 cranes would be granted a wish by a crane. Although she had plenty of time in the hospital to make the cranes, she lacked paper. So, she would use any paper she could get her hands on – medicine wrappings and even wrapping paper from ‘get-well’ presents received by other patients.

The story goes that Sadako never managed to complete the 1000 cranes. Instead, after her death, her friends completed them for her. Later, these friends also collected money with which they built the ‘Hiroshima Peace Memorial,’ to remember Sadako and hundreds of other children who died due to the effects of the atom bomb. The idea behind the memorial is to make people remember that war is a terrible thing that hurts a lot of people –so that people never wage (fight) war with bombs again.

A statue of Sadako at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial

To remember Sadako, children from all over Japan continue to make paper cranes even today and thousands of them are displayed every day at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial.  So, on the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, let us remember Sadako and her cranes and pray for peace in the world.