Through Sadako Sasaki, people around the world have come to understand how war makes children suffer-in particular, the unhappiness inflicted on them by the atomic bombing. And they take courage from the image of Sadako battling leukemia and clinging to her hope for life till the end. Sadako was one of the many children who suffered and died because of the atomic bomb.
Sadako Sasaki was born during the Pacific War (World War II)
August 6, 1945
The world's first atomic bomb detonated in the sky over Hiroshima. Sadako's family also experienced the bombing.
On the morning of August 6, air-raid sirens sounded just after 7:00 a.m. After a while, the all-clear sounded, and people began to move about their daily lives again. Sadako, her grandmother, her mother, and brother Masahiro were eating breakfast together.
A blinding flash, then a thunderous blast attacked the family.
The walls of the house toppled, and Sadako and the others were thrown. Masahiro and grandmother were injured but, miraculously, Sadako and her mother were unharmed. Somehow, all escaped from the collapsed house and fled toward the river. Along the way, Sadako's grandmother turned back to get something from the house. She was never seen again.
Fires were igniting here and there. Someone helped the family into a small, decrepit boat to save them from the fires. Though only four at the time, Masahiro remembers desperately bailing water.
Though an atomic bombing survivor, Sadako was a healthy, energetic child who never missed a day of elementary school due to illness. She was a gentle caretaker of her younger sister and brother. She loved singing and sports-in fact, Sadako could outrun anyone in her class.
Ten years after the atomic bombing, life returned to normal for Hiroshima City and its people. However, something was wrong with Sadako's body.
"Sadako has leukemia. She has a year left at the most."
Around five months after Sadako was hospitalized, a five-year-old girl in her hospital died from leukemia. "I wonder if I'm going to die like that," she said simply. Sadako evidently knew that she had leukemia and what a frightening disease it was. At age 12, Sadako battled the terror of death.
Sadako never talked about her pain or suffering. She simply folded her prayers into the paper cranes. Despite her efforts, the disease progressed. She began to get fevers, and some days her pounding head kept her from sleeping. Even then, she folded cranes fervently.