Sadako Sasaki was one of the survivors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan. She was two years old when the bomb fell. She survived the initial attack, but died from leukemia 10 years later. The leukemia was the result of exposure to radiation from the bomb.
Photo: Peace Monument – a memorial to Sadako Sasaki (Creative Commons: Jonathan Moreau).
Sadako Sasaki and the Bomb
Sadako and her family lived two kilometers away from ‘ground zero’. Ground zero refers to the point where the atomic bomb was detonated. The blast from the explosion threw Sadako out of the window. Her mother found her outside of their home without any apparent injuries.
Her mother fled with Sadako. However, the two were exposed to ‘black rain.’ The black rain was radioactive fallout from the bomb. When the bomb exploded it released radioactive materials. These then fell back to earth in the dust and ash.
For the next decade, Sadako seemed to live a normal life in post-war Japan. However, about 10 years later, her neck began to swell. She also began to develop purple spots on her legs. The Japanese girl had developed leukemia. Leukemia is a form of cancer that develops in the bone marrow.
The 1000 Cranes
Many children in Japan also developed leukemia. The cancer was caused by their exposure to radiation. Sadako was hospitalized. At the hospital, her roomate told her about the legend of the 1000 cranes.
Sadako began to make paper cranes with whatever paper she could find. The legend promised to grant someone a wish after making a thousand paper cranes. Sadako managed to make 644 cranes before her death in 1955. After she passed away, her friends and classmates made a thousand cranes for her. The thousand cranes were buried with her.
The Peace Monument
After Sadako Sasaki’s death, her friends also began to raise money. Their plan was to build a monument for all the children who died from the bomb. In 1958, the monument was established in Hiroshima. Sadako Sasaki stands at the top of the monument. In her hands, she holds a giant paper crane.
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Brother Keeps Sadako Memory Alive, The Japan Times.