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Peace cranes on Church Street aim to abolish nukes

Published: Jul. 17, 2020 at 12:27 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 17, 2020 at 11:42 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Cranes are a symbol of peace in many cultures, and 1,000 origami peace cranes from Japan are now displayed in front of Burlington City Hall in observance of next month’s 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II.

The story behind the peace cranes is of a little girl, Sadako Sasaki, who developed cancer from atomic radiation because of the Hiroshima bombing. Sasaki started getting sick around age 11.

Robin Lloyd, an activist for abolishing nuclear weapons, believes Sasaki’s story will not only reach the hearts of Vermonters but also teaches an important lesson.

“The cranes date from a little girl who got leukemia from the Hiroshima bombing,” Lloyd said. “Then her health started to fail and her friends said, ‘If you can fold 1,000 cranes, then your wish will come true.‘”

Sasaki died before she reached 1,000 cranes, but her story lives on. Organizers at Thursday’s event in Burlington say they want to use the peace cranes to gain support for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Joseph Gainza, a longtime Vermont peace activist, says that Vermont has supported nuclear weapons abolition in the past.

”The House of Representatives overwhelmingly -- and the Vermont Senate unanimously -- voted on a resolution calling on the United States to enter into the nuclear weapons abolition treaty,” Gainza said.

Today, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons continues to gain support, according to Maho Takahashi, an activist in Burlington.

”With that treaty, once 50 countries ratify it, it will enter into force,” Gainza said.

The peace cranes will be flying for the next week. Each crane has a lesson that visitors are encouraged to take and learn from.

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