This is an exciting and challenging time for abolitionists. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference is nearing, and scores of abolitionists from all over the globe are converging on New York to engage in activities calling on the nations' representatives at the NPT RevCon to take serious steps towards abolition. Roughly 2000 of those converging on New York come from Japan, and nearly 100 of those are Hibakusha, survivors of the bombings of Hiroshima or Nagasaki.
Most victims of the bombings did not survive, and many of the victims were children. Sadako Sasaki (see photo) was one of those victims. Sadako was only 2 years old when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. She survived the bombing and led an outwardly healthy life; she was said to be an energetic child who never missed one day of elementary school. She was also a fast runner. Things changed dramatically for Sadako in 1955 when she was diagnosed with Leukemia (a radiation induced disease) shortly after her class won the relay at the school field day.
While in the hospital another girl in the same hospital died of Leukemia, and now Sadako knew she faced the same fate. In August after 1000 paper cranes folded by high school students in Nagoya were delivered to patients in the hospital, Sadako learned of the legend that if a person folds 1000 cranes, one's wish will come true. Sadako decided to fold 1000 cranes with one wish - to get well. Sadako kept folding cranes, each one a prayer for healing, even through the difficult and sometimes painful days. Sadako finally succumbed to the radiation-induced disease on October 25, 1955 at the age of 12. She would never run again.
Sadako's former classmates wanted to do something to remember Sadako, and that wish grew into a desire to build a monument not just for Sadako, but for all the children who died from the atomic bombs. They began planning and fundraising, receiving money and letters from 3000 schools around Japan, and the Children's Peace Monument (with a statue of Sadako) was completed on Children's Day (May 5) 1958. It stands in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. The inscription carved in stone carries the hope that no more children will ever be victims of nuclear weapons:
This is our cry.
This is our prayer.
For building peace in the world.
As adults we have a duty to protect children, and so as we gather all around the world in the coming weeks to call for nuclear abolition we call on world leaders to fullfill their moral obligation to protect the children by building a strong foundation for peace and working towards the abolition of nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth. And we will not stop until they listen! No more Hiroshimas... No more Nagasakis!
You don't have to travel to New York to participate in actions surrounding the NPT RevCon. There are many events coming up right here in Seattle, Washington including a rally and march on May 2nd, and presentations by a visiting delegation representing the Japan Council against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs (Gensuikyo) on May 5th and 6th. A Hibakusha of Hiroshima will accompany the delegation and give her testimony and an urgent plea to abolish nuclear weapons.
Click here for information on "ABOLISH NUCLEAR WEAPONS: Set The Date Now", a rally and march in Seattle on May 2nd, beginning at 1:30 PM.
Click here for information on "Voices of the Hibakusha" at First United Methodist Church of Seattle, May 5th at 7:30 PM.
Click here for information on "Towards a Nuclear Weapons-Free World", a presentation by the visiting Japanese delegation at University of Washington Tacoma, May 6th at 12:30 PM.
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