HONOLULU — International Peace Day was celebrated on Sept. 21 with the unveiling of World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument’s new Sadako crane exhibit.
Diagnosed with leukemia due to radiation exposure from the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Sadako Sasaki began folding paper cranes in her hospital bed. According to a Japanese legend, if a person folds 1,000 paper cranes, that person is granted one wish. The story of Sadako, who died in 1955, is well-known in Japan and throughout the world; her cranes have come to symbolize world peace and reconciliation.
The Sadako Legacy Foundation of Japan donated one of Sadako’s cranes to the National Park Service in 2012. This crane is now featured in a new, permanent exhibit at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. Among the five remaining cranes that Sadako folded, one was donated to the Tribute WTC Visitor Center and another to the Austrian Study Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution.
The new exhibit at Pearl Harbor is located next the to model of the USS Arizona in the back of the second museum. The crane is in a blue box, accompanied by Sadako’s story. Interpretive text on the U.S. occupation of Japan is located nearby.
The program included a keynote speech by Sadako’s brother, Masahiro Sasaki; a prayer by Yuji Sasaki, Sadako’s nephew; remarks by World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument Superintendent Paul DePrey; taiko drum performances by students of the Pacific Buddhist Academy; and origami lessons given by the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii.
Origami master Won Park was also on hand to fold paper cranes. A mold of one of his cranes was used to create an exclusive line of crane jewelry for the USS Arizona Memorial’s book and gift store.
USS Arizona survivor Lauren Bruner joined Masahiro Sasaki in cutting the ribbon to open the exhibit. Bruner also participated with the Sasaki family in a traditional Hawaiian blessing ceremony the day before the unveiling.
Strands of 1,000 paper cranes decorated the Tree of Life, a symbol of peace. A double rainbow appeared over the Tree of Life before the ceremony.
For more information on the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, visit www.nps.gov/valr/index.htm.