One Million Paper Cranes


How many seas must the white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes’n how many times must the cannonballs fly
Before they’re forever banned?

— Bob Dylan

When I was in the sixth grade, I read a book called Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. It made me cry. It still makes me cry.

In 1955, Sadako Sasaki, a sixth-grader from Japan, developed leukemia as a result of exposure to radiation from the atom bomb the United States dropped on Hiroshima. She was fond of good-luck charms, so when she got sick, her best friend brought her faith, love … and origami paper. Sadako’s friend told her there was a Japanese legend that if a sick person folded 1,000 paper cranes, the gods would grant her wish and make her well again.

Sadako didn’t make it to 1,000, but Sadako and her cranes became an international symbol of peace. In 1958, donations from Japanese schoolchildren funded the construction of a statue of Sadako at Hiroshima’s Peace Park. A plaque on the base of the statue bears this inscription:

This is our cry.
This is our prayer.
Peace in the world.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the innocent children affected by our country’s actions in Iraq and the innocent children who will be affected if our leaders make the wrong decision about Iran.

I want our leaders to think about children like Sadako. I want them to think about Sadako every day. Every time they make a foreign policy decision, I want them to remember Sadako, and I want them to think about how their actions will affect children like her.

Sadako was a toddler when we dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima. She was on the brink of adolescence when its aftermath caught up to her. I don’t want our leaders to create any more Sadakos.

If you don’t want our leaders to endanger any more children like Sadako, please join my latest project: One Million Paper Cranes.

It’s very simple: Fold as many paper cranes as you can. Send half of them to President Bush. Send the other half to the congressman of your choice.

Send a short note along with your cranes, explaining what they mean and why you are asking your leaders to think of the children in Iran, Iraq, and everywhere else in the world before they make a decision that could alter those children’s lives forever. Then drop me a quick post, telling me how many cranes you sent and where you sent them. I will total our flock periodically and post the total here and on the main page of my blog.

I do not want to send one thousand paper cranes to our leaders. I want to send one million paper cranes to our leaders. One million paper cranes, coming from all over the country and maybe all over the world, will be hard to ignore. One million paper cranes will make our leaders think about what they are doing and whether war is really necessary. One million paper cranes might keep children safe.

Here is the address for sending paper cranes to the White House:

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Click here to find your favorite legislator’s address.

Click here for directions on folding a paper crane.

It is easier to fold a big crane than a little crane, especially at first. You must start with a square piece of paper. Thin paper is easier to fold than thick paper. Old magazines and newspapers are made of thin paper, and you can get them for free from your recycling bin. Maybe you could make your cranes out of articles about war, thus turning a symbol of violence into a symbol of peace.

If you would like to make your cranes out of pretty paper, you can find all sorts of origami paper, already cut into perfect squares, at teachers’ supply stores, craft stores, and online. Here is a link to a list of places that sell pretty origami paper online.

Let’s send a message of peace to our leaders. Let’s make them think about the impact of their decisions on the children of the world. Let’s send them one million paper cranes.


“We are all capable of more than we do.”
— Mary Baker Eddy