Tucked in the back corner of the Valor in the Pacific National Monument in Pearl Harbor, is a small origami paper crane in a glass case. The monument is the site of the Pearl Harbor attack and final resting place for the USS Arizona, so it’s an unusual place to find an immortality story.
The display tells of Sadako Sasaki, a two year old girl who lived two kilometers of the Hiroshima bombing. Ten years later, she would develop leukemia.
A Japanese legend suggests that anyone who folds one thousand paper cranes will have a wish granted. As purple spots formed on her legs and she entered a hospital, Sadako’s wish was to survive.
Just as difficult as folding, perhaps more so, was finding Paper. Paper was in short supply so she used labels from medicine bottles, pieces of wrapping paper and friends rushed to donate what they could.
She reached one thousand cranes, and even went beyond, but she did not get her wish. She died shortly after missing her elementary school graduation.
Yet the fact that so many know her story means she is, in a way, immortal.
What’s more, her life has come to be a cry for peace, a reminder that war has casualties far beyond the battlefield. After Her death, her classmates raised money to create a monument to her. Her father gave the paper cranes away to those who wanted to hear the story until there were only five left.
He’s held on those, hoping to donate where they have the most impact. One was donated to the Valor in the Pacific Monument and one has been given to the National 911 Monument.
Talk abou a way to become immortal. Not Sadako chose that path. Very few of us would.