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  • Martin Kirkbride

Thought For Today: Coventry & Hiroshima

Coventry & Hiroshima: Sadako was a 12 year old girl from Hiroshima. When the atomic bomb was dropped on her city she came into contact with dangerous atomic radiation and became a victim of leukemia. She was sent to hospital where the nurses persuaded hopelessly sick children like Sadako to take their medicine by promising to fold little origami figures out of the paper squares in which the medicine was wrapped. Sadako's favourite figure was the crane - in Japan a symbol of hope.

A Japanese legend says that anyone who folds, hopefully and faithfully, 1,000 cranes will have their wishes granted. Sadako used her medicine wrappers for making cranes, praying each time for recovery for herself, until one day she sensed that she would never get well. She changed her prayer. Instead of praying for herself, she began to pray for peace for all victims of war. To each crane she finished she said, "I will write peace on your wings and you will fly all over the world."

Sadako folded 644 cranes before she died at the age of 12. When her story became known, children all over Japan began to fold paper cranes and sent them in their thousands to Hiroshima. The children of Hiroshima raised money to build a 'Peace Tower' in which these paper cranes could hang. The tower stands in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. On top is a little girl in bronze and in her hands, stretched high above her head, she holds a golden crane. Below, hang thousands and thousands of colourful paper cranes strung together in garlands representing the prayers of children all over the world. At the base of the peace memorial is a plaque which says: "This is our cry, this is our prayer, peace in the world."

The children of japan, sent 1000 of those folded cranes to the Coventry Cathedral – today those cranes, remembering the life of Sadako, hang in the chapel of unity. During my time at the cathedral, and on the occasions of my returning, when presiding at Holy Communion in that Chapel, I have found it overwhelmingly poignant to stand in front of those 1000 Cranes and proclaim from the liturgy, “The peace of the Lord be always with you”

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