By Hiroko Tsuda

The Sacramento Hiroshima Nikkeijin Kai held a special memorial service on Aug. 2 to honor the 140,000 people killed in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.

Mary Ann Miyao planned the program for this Buddhist service which was held at the Buddhist Church of Sacramento Betsuin. President Bruce Muramoto served as the memorial service chairperson.

Rinban Bob Oshita in his sermon talked about how the bombing personally affected him when he visited the Hiroshima Peace Park museum and saw the atrocities of artifacts and photos of the sufferings of the victims. When he visited his aunt who survived the bombing, she declared to him, that what he saw “was nothing compared to what happened on the day of the bombing.”
Because it was a special service, representatives from the community were invited to attend.

They participated in the incense offering in memory of the deceased. The representatives were: Consul Mizuho Hayakawa, Consulate of Japan; Jovan Agee, Community Relations Director City of Sacramento; Harold Yamauchi, Aichi Kenjin Kai; Richard Kawahata, Bocho Doshi Kai; Sumiko King, Okinawa Kenjin Kai; Mas Kawasaki, Wakayama Kenjin Kai; Satsuki Yamamoto, Family of Deceased Members; Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Survivors (Ten persons, who will remain anonymous for their protection); John Yoshikawa, Family of Deceased Military; Gordon Nitta, Buddhist Church of Sacramento; and Molly Kimura, Sacramento Hiroshima Nikkeijin Kai.

Chairperson Bruce Muramoto retold the story of Sadako Sasaki and the Thousand Cranes (as told by the late Mary Tsukamoto, Activist in the August Peace Event): “Sadako was only two years-old when the Atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima City. As she and her classmates grew up, they checked their bodies each day for red spots, which were the early signs of the Atomic bomb disease, leukemia.

When she saw none, she happily ran to school. Her dream was to be the fastest runner of not only her school, but in the all Hiroshima City competition. She practiced hard every day. Then one day her legs gave out, and she was rushed to the hospital. After a series of diagnostic tests, the doctors concluded that she had leukemia.

Chizuko, Sadako’s friend, visited her at the hospital and told her about the legend of the thousand cranes, that if a sick person were to fold a thousand cranes praying earnestly while folding that her wish would come true. So, Sadako began to fold cranes praying earnestly not only for her recovery, but also praying for other hospitalized children’s recovery. She wrote a haiku for the paper cranes:

‘I will write PEACE on your wings
And you will fly
All over the world.’

Sadako had folded 644 cranes, when her last day came. The Sadako Sasaki story was written in newspapers throughout Japan. Immediately everyone began folding paper cranes to complete Sadako’s wish for peace to come true. All these garlands of cranes were sent to Hiroshima City. At the Peace Park, the city leaders decided they must do something with all the cranes. They decided to build a bronze monument in memory of Sadako and all the children who died as a result of the Atomic bombing. The children and adults donated their monies to build the statue of Sadako. She is now standing atop of a mountain with her arms outstretched holding a giant paper crane above her. At the base of the monument is written the children’s wish:

‘This is our cry,
This is our prayer,
Peace in the world’’’
Let us all work toward, ‘‘No More Hiroshimas!”

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