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There is a Japanese tradition that if you folded 1000 origami cranes in a single year — symbolic of the 1,000 years that mystical cranes were thought to live for — your wish would come true. The tradition has transformed paper cranes into symbols of hope and healing during challenging times. This story features one girl’s experience which helped create and popularize this heart-warming tradition. It tells the story of a girl, Sadako Sasaki, who was a toddler when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, killing over 100,000 people in a flash.

And yet, the killings weren’t over. Long after peace was declared, children like Sadako contracted radiation-related illness, leading to their deaths long afterward. During her struggle, the sickened Sadako tried to fold 1,000 herself, ultimately failing at 644 and losing her wish to overcome leukemia. This is a sad, yet stirring story, written for young people to help them understand the importance of hope and the terrible costs of war. Today, people remember Sadako’s story, often leaving paper cranes in memory of their ancestors.

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