As World War II came to a close, newly inaugurated President Truman was faced with unleashing the United States’s powerful atomic bomb, codenamed "The Manhattan Project". He quickly opted to deploy the bomb for military action. On August 6, 1945, the bomb was dropped over Hiroshima, a military base city in Japan. Unbeknownst to Truman or any of the project’s members, the bomb’s horrific power would, in addition to killing many instantly, claim lives in later years as a result of radiation sickness and forms of cancer.
One of these victims to radiation was Sadako Sasaki. In 1955, she was diagnosed with Leukemia, a cancer of the blood. This disease became so common in Japan, that in was called the "A-bomb" disease. When the Hiroshima bomb was dropped, Sadako was living only one and a half miles from the epicenter. She was initially unharmed, but the effects appeared later. The first indication of Leukemia came after Sadako collapsed in a running race during her sixth grade year.
After she had become sick, Sadako’s best friend told her that the crane, which is a sacred bird in Japan, grants a wish to someone who folds one thousand paper cranes. After hearing this, Sadako immediately began folding cranes for her one wish: to get well again. Her health gradually deteriorated and Sadako began to wish instead for world peace, that children could live safe from the effects of wars. Sadly, she did not finish. When Sadako died in October of 1955, she had folded a total of 644 cranes. Her classmates folded the remaining cranes in time for her funeral.
she died without finishing, Sadako’s dream did not die. After her death,
several of Sadako’s friends began raising money for the creation of
a national peace monument. This monument in Sadako's name, was constructed
three years later in Hiroshima’s National Peace Park. The statue depicts
Sadako standing on top of a granite pedestal holding a golden crane
in her arms. At the base of the statue a plaque reads, “This is our
cry, this is our prayer, peace in the world.” After the monument was
erected, people from all over the world sent paper cranes to place on
the monument for Peace Day on August 6. This tradition has continued
and the paper crane has remained a symbol of peace
for children around the world.