Mayor Harriet Miller declared August 6, 1996 as “The First Annual Sadako Peace Day.” In making this proclamation, she called “for efforts in our community and throughout the world to abolish nuclear weapons and to prevent people everywhere, particularly children, from suffering the horrors of war.”
Sadako Sasaki was a two-year old girl in Hiroshima, who was exposed to radiation when the atomic bomb was dropped on her city on August 6, 1945. She developed radiation-induced leukemia ten years later. Japanese legend has it that one’s wish will come true if one folds a thousand paper cranes. Sadako began folding paper cranes with the wish to get well and achieve world peace. She wrote a poem, “I will write peace on your wings and you will fly all over the world.” Sadako died with 646 cranes folded, and her classmates finished folding the paper cranes. Sadako’s story has become known to people all over the world, and the folding of paper cranes has become a symbol of world peace.
To commemorate Sadako Peace Day, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and La Casa de Maria hosted an outdoor ceremony at Sadako Peace Garden at La Casa de Maria. The ceremony, with some 100 people in attendance, included a musical program arranged by Harry Sargous of The Music Academy of the West, and poetry read by several Santa Barbara poets, including Gene Knudsen Hoffman and Sojourner Kincaid-Rolle.
Foundation president David Krieger summarized the importance of the event and the day: “This day August 6th has many names. For some, looking back in history, it is Hiroshima Day, a time to recall the terrible devastation that took place when a single nuclear weapon was dropped on the city of Hiroshima. For some, looking to the future, it is Abolition Day, a time to rededicate one’s efforts to the elimination of all nuclear weapons in the world. These are important perspectives. For us here today, the day is also Sadako Peace Day, a commemoration of the loss of an innocent child’s life as a result of the bombing of Hiroshima, and a rededication to preventing other children from being injured and killed as a result of war, any war.”