On August 6, 2003 the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation held its the 9th Annual Sadako Peace Day event to commemorate the anniversary of the tragic atomic bombing of Hiroshima with music, poetry, and inspiring words.

Sadako Peace Day celebrates the courage of Sadako Sasaki, a young survivor of Hiroshima, who developed leukemia at age twelve, ten years after the bombing. Following the Japanese legend that if one folds 1,000 paper cranes one’s wish will come true, Sadako began folding paper cranes, wishing to be well and to achieve world peace. She only folded 646 cranes before she died, and her classmates finished folding the cranes after her death. On August 6, 1995, the 50th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and La Casa de Maria inaugurated the Sadako Peace Garden in Montecito, California, where they have since held the Sadako Peace Day event every year.

The Mayor of Santa Barbara, Marty Blum, noted the importance of this year’s event, stating, “Your presence here today acknowledges the need to learn from the past.” In addition to Mayor Blum, several other moving speakers shared their insights on the struggle towards a more peaceful world, including Nuclear Age Peace Foundation President David Krieger, and Reverend Mark Asman. Reverend Asman asserted, “The message of nuclear power and might is a completely wrong message enshrined and encapsulated by fear.”

Jackson Kunz, a fifth grader at Marymount School, read a hopeful poem entitled World Peace by Sky McLeod, the winner of the 2002 Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry Award, 12 and under category. Additional poems where read by Sojourner Kincaid Rolle and Perie Longo. Reflective music was performed by EdWing on the butterfly harp and zithers, Ming Freemen on keyboards, Claudia Kiser on cello, and Sudama Mark Kennedy on shakuhachi. Jim Villanueva, Executive Director of the La Casa de Maria, concluded the ceremony.

The Foundation would like to thank the public libraries in Venice, Florida and Coloma, Wisconsin for sending hundreds of beautiful paper cranes used to decorate the Sadako Peace Garden for the event. If you would like to be a part of next year’s Sadako Peace Day but are not in the Santa Barbara area, you can send your folded origami cranes to the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation at 1622 Anacapa St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101. The origami paper crane is now recognized around the world as a symbol of peace.

Thank you.

 Poems read at the event:

A Space Where A Poem Ought Be 
by Sojourner Kincaid Rolle

I’ve known of missing poems before
poems stronger than the suppressing hand
poems more powerful than the invisibility

poems that speak from the realm of the soul
from the place that needs no facade
the place unpalpable where the poem touches

a father’s unrenderable gaze

absent from the family photograph
frozen in clenched smile abstraction
hovering somewhere near the unfathomable

a hole where a heart once lay

cached between bone and muscle
a conduit for that which makes life livable
its beat but an echo its rhythm but a spasm of memory

hurt where a friendship once was

its demise never anticipated
its loss never contemplated
it measure infinite

space where a leg ought be

the missing limb but bits of flesh femur blood
soft shrapnel on a once abandoned war ground
the mined soil holding secret its maiming terror

nothing where something ought be

it is said that to which the missing was adjoined
the left behind
mourns its disattached

one sees the shining knee –
the favored other

there is emptiness – longing
grief is spoken
and desire

Listen to That Finch
by Perie LongoListen to that finch, small thing
with red neck
singing its heart out in all this traffic
unconcerned with where we race,
not plotting against us,
not giving a fiddle for the news
or anyone’s views but his
about the tops of trees, and light.

If we hadn’t stood up
in the beginning of time, we’d do the same,
voice boxes high in the throat,
no way to make words,
just notes coming through,
clicks or growls.

Maybe its time to get down,
crawl on our hands and knees
around on the earth between
the daisies and land mines
and pray, call loud our loved one’s names,
hiss when someone who doesn’t love us
gets too close
but not blow him up, no.

He might have the code for survival
some cure to forget our fear.
He might be God
looking for something new to create
just in case we obliterate ourselves