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“They called us the ‘ragged class,'” recalls Tomiko Kawano of her sixth-grade group at Noboricho Elementary School in Hiroshima. “Half our class had lost family in the atomic bombing or were survivors themselves.”

Among them was Sadako Sasaki, the now-famous little girl who developed acute leukemia 10 years after being exposed to radiation during the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Inspired by the age-old Japanese belief that anyone who makes 1,000 origami cranes will see their wish come true, Sadako spent her last days folding paper cranes on her hospital bed in the hope she would recover.

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