Sadako Sasaki was born in Japan on January 7, 1943 and died on October 25, 1955 from leukemia prompted by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Two-year-old Sadako lived just under a mile from ground zero and, when the blast occurred in 1945, she was blown out a window of her home. She survived in good health and happiness for another 10 years but began to have health issues in late 1954. She was soon diagnosed with leukemia in early 1955 and died later that year at the tender age of 12.
Sadako is celebrated for many things to include unselfish devotion to her family and friends, outstanding academic performance, and athletic talent since she could outrun all her fellow students. By every account, her popularity and admiration of both classmates and teachers was well deserved. She exuded a sharing and caring nature as well as a special joy which, despite hardships large and small, have to this day served as an example to those who know of her. But she is also remembered for and is strongly associated with a special legend involving the sacred bird of happiness in Japan: the crane.
In 1955, while ill in the hospital, Sadako learned about a unique origami legend: if you fold 1,000 paper cranes, you are granted a special wish by the gods. This re-vitalized Sadako and gave her renewed hope for the future as she set about learning and then mastering the art of origami. Her crane creations were from many sources of paper such as gifts given fellow patients and even medical wrappings. They were strung together and hung in her hospital room. When Sadako died, most of the cranes were buried with her; however, her family kept a precious few as tokens of remembrance. Among the Sasaki family donor locations which feature a paper crane folded by Sadako are the 911 Tribute WTC (World Trade Center) Visitor Center in New York City and the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Sadako has long served as a beacon for world peace and an inspiration to people of all ages throughout the world. She has served as a symbol of all innocent victims of war. The Sadako Legacy Non-Profit Organization was established in 2009 by her family in her honor. A life-size statue of Sadako towers over the Children’s Peace Monument in the center of Japan’s Hiroshima Peace Park and another is located in the Seattle Peace Park in Washington State.
Through no fault of her own, this sweet child lost her life well before her time. Sadako Sasaki did so bravely and with a gentle stoicism far beyond her years. Let us who still enjoy the gift of life strive to celebrate her by promoting the world she hoped for and keeping alive the special memory of…The Peace Princess.