After the first atomic bomb
ever to be used against
human beings was dropped on
Hiroshima, burning the city
to the ground in a horrific
firestorm, an additional
horror began to make itself
felt among the survivors.
Radiation sickness and
various forms of cancer
began claiming even more
lives.

In 1954, Sadako Sasaki was
the fastest runner in her
sixth-grade class. The
following year, after
collapsing after a race,
she was diagnosed with
leukemia, a cancer of the
blood. Sadako had been two
years old at the time of
the blast, and had been
unhurt even though she had
been only about a mile and
a half away from the
epicenter. But ten years
later, so many children
were getting leukemia that
it had become known as
"A-bomb disease."

While Sadako was in the
hospital, her classmates
visited to bring classwork
and to cheer her up. One
day, her best friend brought
some pretty paper and folded
an origami crane. She told
Sadako that the crane, which
is a sacred bird in Japan, is
believed to live for a thou-
sand years and to have the
power of granting wishes. A
person who folds a thousand
cranes, making a wish with
each one, will have her wish
granted.

Sadako began folding cranes
with every bit of paper she
could find. At first all of
her wishes were for health,
but as she grew weaker and
weaker, she began wishing
instead for world peace and
a stop to wars which have
such devastating effects
upon the world's children.
By the time she died in her
sleep on October 25, 1955,
she had folded 644 cranes;
her friends folded the re-
maining cranes in time for
her funeral.

Sadako's classmates wished
for a way to do more than
just wish for world peace,
so that Sadako and the
others who died of A-bomb
disease might not have died
in vain. Thirty-nine of her
friends formed a club and
began raising money for a
monument. Students from over
3,000 schools in Japan and
from nine other countries
gave money, and three years
later, on May 5, 1958, the
Children's Peace Monument
was unveiled in Hiroshima's
Peace Park. Now every year
on August 6, Peace Day,
people from all over the
world send paper cranes
to the park.

Members of the Paper Crane
Club take care of the monu-
ment and visit people who
are sick or old or who need
help. And they fold cranes.
Some of these they send to
world leaders to remind them
that the children of the world
want to rid it of nuclear bombs.
Some they save to drape around
the necks of peace workers and
dignitaries who come to visit
Hiroshima. Their aim is to
spread the message which is
carved at the base of Sadako's
monument:

THIS IS OUR CRY,
THIS IS OUR PRAYER:
PEACE IN THE WORLD!