Monday, August 11, 2008

Sadako - Prayer For Peace

When my two oldest boys were in grade school we had a special ritual during holidays and summer vacations. I would pick a book, and read a little to them each night by candlelight. One of those books was the story of "Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes" -- a true story about a girl who lived in Japan.
She was just two years old when the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima Aug. 6,1945. Although she survived the blast -- at age eleven she was diagnosed with Leukemia, "the atom bomb" disease. Sadako's best friend told her of an old Japanese legend that anyone who folds a thousand paper cranes would be granted a wish. Sadako hoped that her wish, to get well, would be granted. She started to work on the paper cranes and completed over 644 before dying on October 25, 1955 at the age of twelve. Her friends folded the remaining 356 cranes.
My son Ben actually picked this book out. I had never heard of it, but as we read together each night - a tragic - but beautiful story unfolded. Many days passed and on the final night, as I reached the last page of the book, tears welled up in my eyes. I remember my two little boys faces, shining in the candlelight, looking at me as I struggled to read the final sentences. It was such beautiful story with a powerful message of courage and spirit.
Children and adults continue to fold these cranes even today, and every year cranes are sent to Hiroshima as a symbol of peace. In 1958, a statue of Sadako holding a golden crane was unveiled in Hiroshima Peace Park. The children also made a wish which is inscribed at the bottom of the statue and reads:"This is our cry, This is our prayer, Peace in the world".

On August 6, 1945, the atomic bomb took the lives of over 200,000 Hiroshima residents. More than 90% of the city was damaged by the blast; around the epicenter, nearly all of the people died instantly, and most of the buildings were destroyed without a trace. Three days later, on August 9, 1945, another atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki which left 120,000 people dead. Today, the epicenters of both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki blasts have been turned into Peace Memorial Parks. Each year on August 6 and 9, respectively, a ceremony is held at each park to remember the victims of the atomic bombs and to pray for world peace.
Maybe we can all take the time to say a prayer with them. "Peace in the world."


M.Kate said...

Dear Sabina
I have never seen this book before..should look for it. It's great for the children to read..a reminder why we need and hope for a more peaceful world. I was happy when I saw the Olympics opening..not happy when I read about the Russian invasion to Georgia. Though our country have very little trade with either countries, just the thought of a war makes me sad..all those innocent involved. You have a good week ahead.

Ashley L. said...

how beautiful. i love that photo. its so serene :)

Fifi Flowers said...

Lovely post!
My son just wrote about the bombings a few months back for history class... you brought a memory of many nights nagging him to write report...
I like your peaceful story better... thank you for sharing and helping to erase my story... I will now think of yours! :)

Sabina said...

Thanks for all the comments. My kids went back to school yesterday -- so I am just getting caught up with blogs and am ready with lots of new ideas for barefoot.


Margaret said...

What a sad, beautiful, hopeful story. I have to read it now!

kathleen said...

Thank you for sharing this beautiful reminder! My boyfriend went to Peace Park when he was in Japan, on tour with his guitar quartet, and he wrote a piece of music in tribute to it. He told me all about Peace Park before he played it for me, and now whenever I see the piece in performance, I cry for all of the people who died, and also for the message of hope and forgiveness. Just in case you might like the music, here is the link to the myspace. It's called "Peace Park."

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