by David Krieger

I welcome you to this beautiful and sacred place that is dedicated to all who work for peace and a world without nuclear weapons. This garden bears the name of Sadako Sasaki, a small child who was only two years old when the bomb was dropped on her city of Hiroshima. On this day 52 years ago, some 90,000 persons perished at Hiroshima. By the end of 1945 the number had grown to 145,000 in Hiroshima, and another 75,000 in Nagasaki.

Sadako lived for another ten years before being struck down by leukemia. In her hospital bed, Sadako folded paper cranes with the wish to become well and to achieve world peace. In Japanese tradition, one's wish will come true if one folds 1000 paper cranes. While folding the paper cranes, Sadako wrote this poem, "I will write peace on your wings and you will fly all over the world."

Sadako died with only 646 cranes folded, but her classmates stepped in and finished the 1000 cranes. Because of Sadako's efforts, the paper crane has become an international symbol of peace. Millions of paper cranes have been folded by children and adults throughout the world in the hope of attaining a more peaceful and just world.

Our goal is to help Sadako's paper cranes take wing throughout the world. We seek to move from Sadako to Sunflowers, from ashes to abolition. Sadako's death, the death of any child, is a tragedy, the more so for being a helpless victim of warfare. Sadako's short life can inspire us to do more to create a world in which Sadako's fate will not be suffered by other children.

The sunflower is rapidly becoming the universal symbol of a world without nuclear weapons. Former U.S. Defense Secretary Perry said, "Sunflowers instead of missiles in the soil will insure peace for future generations." Sunflowers are symbols of life, while nuclear warheads and missiles are the ultimate symbols of death, the potential death of all.

Please join us in the campaign for a nuclear weapons free world. Let us move from missiles to sunflowers. Let us honor the life of Sadako by assuring that no child in the future suffers the fate of being an innocent victim of warfare.

I encourage you to sign our Abolition 2000 International Petition, and to take a packet of Sunflower Seeds of Peace and send it to President Clinton with a personal note calling for stronger U.S. efforts to achieve the elimination of all nuclear weapons in the world.