On August 6, 1945, when the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a young girl named Sadako Sasaki was only two years old. Sadako survived seemingly unharmed until ten years later when she was diagnosed with leukemia, which had been dubbed “the atom bomb disease.”
While in the hospital, Sadako’s best friend Chizuko took a golden piece of paper and folded a paper crane as a gift for her. He explained the ancient Japanese legend that if a person folds 1,000 paper cranes their wish will be granted.
In an attempt to achieve her dream of renewed health, Sadako folded cranes. As her health deteriorated, she changed her wish to world peace, so that other children did not have to suffer from the effects of war.
Sadako folded 644 cranes but sadly she died before she could reach 1,000. Her classmates folded the remaining 356 and all 1,000 cranes were buried with Sadako.
After Sadako’s death, her classmates raised funds to erect a statue in memory of all children who died as a result of the atomic bomb. The statue symbolizes the wish for world peace and features Sadako holding a golden crane in her arms.
Each day, paper cranes are laid by this statue in Hiroshima to symbolize peace for children around the world. At its base lies a plaque which reads:
“This is our cry, this is our prayer; peace in the world.”