For The Catholic Messenger
The 2020 Summer Olympics took place a year late in Tokyo, Japan, because of the pandemic, and represented one of the most hopeful events of the year. In the final days before the conclusion of the Olympics and just afterwards, the world marked the 76th anniversaries of two of the darkest days in human history, which also happened in Japan. On Aug. 6, 1945, the United States dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima and three days later dropped a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki.
The Sisters of St. Francis and the Franciscan Peace Center in Clinton partnered with the global Cranes for Our Future campaign in a spirit of international cooperation to honor those who perished in the bombings in Japan.
The campaign encouraged a growing coalition of people and institutions around the world to come together to create some much-needed hope by folding and sharing photos of paper peace cranes on social media on Peace Weekend, between the anniversaries of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings.
“Combined with the actions of others, this symbolic gesture brings light to the fact that the majority of people across the globe really do want a world that is free from the threat of nuclear weapons,” said Laura Anderson of the Franciscan Peace Center.
The origami crane is a symbol of peace thanks to a young girl named Sadako Sasaki who was just 2 years old when she survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, only to succumb to the long-term effects of radiation poisoning a decade later. Guided by a tradition dating back centuries in Japan, Sadako attempted to fold 1,000 paper cranes in the hope that her wish to live would be granted. After her death, children around the world heard her story and made paper cranes. The Children’s Peace Monument has been created in her memory at Hiroshima Peace Park.
The Nuclear Threat Initiative partnered with Nagasaki Prefecture, Hiroshima Prefecture and the Hiroshima Organization for Global Peace (HOPe) on the Cranes for Our Future campaign to spread a message of hope for a future without nuclear weapons. “Now, as we lose the generation that remembers when the bombs fell on Japan, we face new, modern threats related to terrorism, cyberattacks, artificial intelligence and a deteriorating arms-control architecture,” Anderson said. “Experts warn the risk of nuclear disaster is the highest it’s been in years.”
In 2005, the Sisters of St. Francis took a corporate public stand in opposition to the continued maintenance, research, development and threatened use of the U.S. arsenal of nuclear weapons. They call on the federal government to fulfill its commitments to nuclear disarmament as agreed to in the Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1970 and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty of 1996.
About the Franciscan Peace Center
The Sisters of St. Francis established the Franciscan Peace Center as a means for integrating Franciscan spirituality with the mission of promoting active nonviolence and peacemaking as well as advocating for social justice issues and care for the Earth. More information is available at www.ClintonFranciscans.com.