Today is Hiroshima Day – “199,000 Cranes” for Peace

On August 6, 1945, an atomic bomb devastated the city of Hiroshima, Japan and the world changed forever.  68 years later, a little girl who experienced the blast is remembered by people around the world, including the small town of Honoka‘a on the Big Island of Hawai‘i.

Peace Day Cranes

With strong ties to Hiroshima from many residents in the community, the Peace Committee of Honoka‘a Hongwanji Buddhist Temple is launching an ambitious, year-long project to gather 199,000 origami paper cranes.  The cranes will be sent as a massive “flock” to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, where a statue of the little girl—Sadako Sasaki—stands as a symbol of peace.

About Sadako Sasaki

Sadako was only two years old when the bomb fell.  She grew into a healthy, athletic girl who loved to run, but at age 12 succumbed to leukemia, caused by radiation exposure.   During her illness, Sadako folded origami cranes, trying to reach the legendary 1,000 that would make her wish for peace and healing come true.

After her death, friends and schoolmates continued to fold cranes in her memory, and soon the story of Sadako and her cranes spread to other children and adults, inspiring books, films, peace education projects and her statue in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.  At the base of the statue are thousands of paper cranes, from children around the world.

About Peace Day events

The families of Sadako’s brother and nephew will visit the Big Island for the 7th Annual Peace Day Parade Parade and Festival on September 21, 2013.  The Peace Committee, producers of the events, created the “199,000 Cranes” project to honor Sadako and her family.

“We chose 199,000 as our goal because it corresponds to the number of atomic bomb casualties in Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” said Peace Committee Chairman Miles Okumura.  “There are many people in our community who had family in Hiroshima on that day, and many still do.  Some of our Peace Committee members are women who remember the day the bomb fell, and felt those horrific losses very deeply.”

In addition to the “199,000 Cranes” project, the Peace Committee‘s peace education efforts will include:  support for teachers using the book “Sadako and the Thousand Cranes” in class; a dramatic presentation of the play of the same name; and mini-grants to teachers who share their peace education lesson plans.

Other projects include: Read for Peace; a Day of Mindfulness (for Peace in Your Daily Life), Sept. 14; the student Peace Poster Contest; a 5K Run for Peace; and “adopt a clan house” support for climate change refugees in the islands of the Carteret Atoll.

About the Peace Day Parade & Festival

The Peace Day Parade begins at 4 p.m. on Saturday, September 21, stepping off from Honoka‘a High School and proceeding along Mamane Street to the Sports Complex. The Parade has been described as a “moving stage” of music, dance and entertainment-with-a-message, delivered by 40+ different parade units, likely including thousands of origami cranes as a tribute to the Sasaki’s.

“We are asking individuals or groups who can donate a display of at least 1,000 cranes to contact us about participating in the Peace Day Parade,” said Okumura.  “It’s such an honor for our community to welcome the Sasaki family. We want to show aloha from all of us, and let them know that we know Sadako’s story and are doing what we can to share the message of peace, compassion and global interdependence.”

After the Parade, the Peace Festival takes place at the Honoka’a Sports Complex from 5-8 p.m.  Admission is free and families are encouraged to come and enjoy lots of live music, food booths, crafts, train rides, a “jump and slide,” taiko drums, magic, and a large community bon dance for all to join.

The United Nations has been celebrating the International Day of Peace for more than 25 years, and Peace Day became law in Hawaii in 2007 as a result of lobbying by the teen group, United Junior Young Buddhist Association.  Peace Day events include global ceasefire to facilitate humanitarian and relief work, large scale concerts and peace festivals worldwide.

To learn more about these projects and 7th Annual Parade & Festival for the United Nations International Day of Peace, and contribute cranes to the “199,000 Cranes” project, please visit www.PeaceDayParade.org or PeaceDayParade on Facebook, or email info@peacedayparade.org.

 

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