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The origami crane became a global symbol of peace because of a little Japanese girl named Sadako Sasaki. Sadako was two years old when the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and later developed leukemia, also known as “the atom bomb disease,” in the 6th grade.
While in the hospital, she was told the Japanese legend of origami cranes, which said that anyone who folds 1,000 cranes would be granted a wish. Hoping to get well, Sadako folded more than 1,000 before she died at the age 12.
While making the cranes, Sadako also wished for world peace. Her classmates, wanting to honor her, decided to create a monument to their friend and all the children killed by the atom bomb. Young people all over Japan collected money for the project.
In 1958, the Children’s Peace Monument—a statue of Sadako holding a crane—was unveiled in Hiroshima Peace Park.
As we continue our countdown to the International Day of Peace on September 21, Loretto at the UN and the Loretto Committee for Peace encourage participation in the Peace Crane Project, launched by Armed with the Arts. Everyone around the world is invited to participate—students, community groups, families and individuals.
Here’s how it works. Get a piece of perfectly square paper. Write a poem or little story about peace on one side. Small children may just want to list words of peace. Draw or paint an image of peace on the other side of the paper. Then fold your paper into an origami crane (see instructional video here) and you’re ready to put it out in the world.
Find a home for your crane in your community, or, if you’re a group that would like to do an exchange with another group in the world, fill out this registration form at Armed With the Arts.
With our cranes, we will echo and amplify the message inscribed at the foot of the Children’s Peace Monument: “This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace in the world.”