SEATTLE, Wash. – Sadako Peace Park is a small bit of open space near the University of Washington here. On October 12, it was the gathering point for students from the North Kitsap Options Program of the Gordon Elementary School.
The students, their teacher and several peace activists gathered to decorate the park with 1,000 paper cranes made by the children. According to a Japanese tradition, if you fold 1,000 paper cranes, your fondest wish will come true. In recent years, people from around the world have folded cranes in the quest for peace. This quest is inspired by the story of a young Japanese girl. Sadako was a young girl living in Japan during World War II.
Although she was not killed outright by the U.S. atomic blast that destroyed Hiroshima, she died a few years later from leukemia. Not one to give up hope, Sadako, during her final stay in the hospital, set out to fold 1,000 cranes. She folded more than 600 before she died. Her family and friends, moved by her determination, completed the task after her death.
Soon after, a statue of Sadako, releasing a large paper crane, became a prominent feature of the Hiroshima Peace Park. The inscription on it reads, ‘This is our cry, this is our prayer, peace in the world.’ Each year on the anniversary of the bombings, thousands of cranes are strung together and brought to the park.
Seattle’s Sadako Peace Park has a replica of the Hiroshima statue. In the park, the students sang songs, held up their signs for passing motorists. The common message the students brought to the park was simply, ‘world peace.’