THE LEGEND OF 1000 CRANES
One thousand origami cranes held together by string is a senbazuru.
I will write peace on your wings and you will fly all over the world.
Sadako Sasaki (1943-55)
Sadako Sasaki was two years old and lived one mile from ground zero when the American military dropped a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima. In late 1954 she developed health problems related to her radiation exposure. In the first part of 1955 she was diagnosed with leukemia and given one year to live.
According to Japanese tradition, if you fold one thousand origami cranes, the cranes will grant you your heart's desire. While in the hospital, Sadako decided to fold the cranes and ask for her health to be restored. Using whatever paper she could find, she folded over one thousand cranes before she died in October.
After her death, friends and classmates dreamed of building a monument in honor of all the children who died because of the Hiroshima bombing. In 1958, that dream became a reality when a statue of Sadako holding a golden crane was unveiled in Hiroshima Peace Park. The plaque at the bottom of the monument reads:
This is our cry, This is our prayer, Peace in the world.
... Cranes have come to play a unique role as ambassadors for peace, helping peoples from different countries to recognize the common ground that unites them. Principles and methods developed through the study and conservation of cranes have contributed to the foundation of broader national, international, and regional programs for the conservation of biological diversity and the implementation of the idea of sustainable land use. Meine, Curt D. and George W. Archibald (Eds). 1996. The cranes: Status survey and conservation action plan. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland, and Cambridge, U.K. 294pp. Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online. http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov /resource/birds/cranes/index.htm (Version 02MAR98).
There are fifteen living species of cranes. But due to pollution, a loss of habitat, and other environmental factors, eleven of the fifteen species are listed as either vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered.
Three species, Whooping, Red-crowned and Siberian cranes, have populations with such low numbers that extraordinary conservation efforts are underway to insure their survival.
The Whooping Crane, with a total population of 485, reached the brink of extinction in the 1940's and is now one of the world's rarest and most carefully managed wildlife species. They are wondrous creatures, standing nearly five feet tall with a wingspan of almost eight. Their name comes from their distinctive cry.