WENDOVER, UTAH – A paper crane made by Sadako Sasaki, a young Japanese victim of the Hiroshima atomic bombing who died of leukemia a decade after the attack, was donated Saturday to a former training site for U.S. bombing crews during World War II.
Yuji Sasaki, 47, Sadako’s nephew, donated her origami crane to Utah’s Historic Wendover Airfield Museum ahead of the 72nd anniversary of the attack, which took place on Aug. 6, 1945.
Sadako became an icon for peace after folding more than a thousand of the origami cranes while being treated for leukemia 10 years after the bombing. She died at the age of 12 in 1955.
The donation took place in a ceremony inside the hangar that once housed the Enola Gay, the B-29 that dropped the first atomic bomb to be used in warfare.
“The peace that Sadako wished for is instilled in this paper crane that Sadako folded,” Yuji said.
“I hope my presentations will continue to promote peace between Japan and the United States.”
Sadako’s family has sent her cranes around the world from Europe to South America to promote peace.
The Historic Wendover Airfield Museum is the sixth location in the United States to receive a crane from the Sasaki family, joining sites including Pearl Harbor and the Harry S. Truman Library in Missouri.
“For the first time, two sides — one representing those that dropped the atomic bomb and the other, victim — come together in the United States of America not with enmity in their hearts, but thoughts of reconciliation,” Edwin Hawkins, a Japan-born retired U.S. Air Force colonel and former president of the Japan-America Society of Hawaii, said at the ceremony.
The donation “speaks powerfully to the power of reconciliation,” he said.
A plaque in her exhibit reads: “This exhibit is presented neither as an apology nor condemnation of actions by either country during World War II, but rather a hope for nations to resolve conflicts without having to resort to wars and the inevitable devastation.”
The plaque introduces Sadako as “a young victim of the Hiroshima bombing, and yet she exhibited hope for the future in an innocent and optimistic way.”