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1,000 Cranes for Peace

May 19, 2005

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Sadako Sasaki was a 12-year-old Japanese girl who died of leukemia, a victim of radiation from the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. An ancient Japanese legend says that anyone who folds 1,000 paper cranes will be granted a wish, so Sadako folded the cranes hoping she would recover and one day run again. But she died on Oct. 25, 1955. She never gave up, folding the cranes until her last day, inspiring her friends and classmates.

In 1958, a statue of Sadako holding a golden crane was unveiled in Hiroshima Peace Park with a children's wish inscribed at the bottom: "This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace in the world.” Today, people all over the world fold paper cranes and send them to Sadako's monument in Hiroshima.

Moved by Sasaki's story, Issaquah High School Japanese teacher Tammy Haldeman and her students folded 1,000 paper cranes in the school colors of purple and gold. Ten strands hold 100 paper cranes each. Students penned good-wish notes on the cranes to Indonesian tsunami survivors, and raised funds to help them through Mercy Corps.

"The broader application is that one person, like Sadako, really can make a difference," Tammy told me when I visited the school on May 10. "And besides sending best wishes to tsunami survivors, the 1,000 cranes represent a universal call to world peace."