World peace lessons learned through eyes of Japanese girl

Published On: Sep 20 2013 02:29:33 PM HST   Updated On: Sep 20 2013 07:25:07 PM HST

A lesson on war and peace came to life for students who got a visit from the family of Sadako Sasaki.

Sasaki is the girl who died at age 12 in 1955 from leukemia she developed after the U.S. dropped an atom bomb on her hometown of Hiroshima 10 years earlier.

The story of how she folded a thousand paper cranes in the belief she would be healed has become a story about world peace.

Even a language difference didn't take away from a lesson on war and peace.

"I believe kids will understand what we are trying to do through this spirit of Sadako and the most important thing is that spirit will be expanding and passing on to others," said Masahiro Sasaki, Sadako’s older brother.

Middle and high school students from Hongwanji Mission School and Pacific Buddhist Academy were getting a history lesson of a young girl's story of horror, hope and her family's mission of peace.

Her older brother said he remembers his sister being smart and compassionate, even while in great pain from leukemia.

The sixth grader's wish was to get better, but she died three months after she started the crane folding project. The 1,600 paper cranes she folded have become a symbol of world peace.

"It feels like she’s standing right next to me as she really likes to communicate her thoughts with kids around her age," said Sasaki.

Her family has made it their mission to spread Sadako's message of peace to as many people as possible.

Sadako's nephew, Yuji Sasaki, is a popular singer and songwriter in Japan.

"So we can use music as a tool to reach out to kids who otherwise might not be interested in the subject," said Yuji.

The family believes no gesture of kindness or compassion is too small in their ongoing effort.

"I could help by being nice to others and having the strength to say you’re wrong," said Kate Sclabassi, 17, a senior at Pacific Buddhist Academy.

One of the paper cranes Sadako Sasaki folded will go on display Saturday as part of an exhibit at the visitors center at the USS Arizona Memorial.  Sept. 21 also marks International Peace Day.


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