Flyer from children that appealed for support to build the Children’s Peace Monument

by Mayumi Nagasato, Staff Writer

A flyer which once appealed for donations to erect the Children’s Peace Monument, unveiled in 1958 in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, has been donated to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. Half a century ago, the campaign to build this well-known monument began with the efforts of a small group of children and then spread nationwide. Shinichi Shine, 66, was president of the student council of Ninoshima Junior High School at that time and he kept one of the flyers in his possession.

The original inspiration for the monument was a young girl named Sadako Sasaki, who was exposed to the atomic bomb at the age of two and died of leukemia when she was 12. While in the hospital, Sadako faithfully folded paper cranes in the hope that crafting 1000 cranes--a traditional Japanese belief for making a wish come true--would restore her health. After Sadako’s death, her classmates at Noboricho Junior High School became determined to honor her life, and the lives of all the children lost to the atomic bomb, and so they initiated a fundraising campaign to erect a memorial. The flyer for donations was made by the “Hiroshima Society of School Children for Building World Peace,” which played a central role in the campaign.

The 13x18 centimeter paper flyer has been well-preserved, despite one torn corner, and the printed text is still clear. It calls for support in the fundraising campaign and reads: “All the student councils of the elementary schools, junior high schools, and high schools in the city of Hiroshima have begun a fundraising campaign to build a monument for children lost to the atomic bomb. We ask for your support in this cause.”

Mr. Shine, as president of his school’s student council, attended a meeting of the “Society of School Children” held at Noboricho Junior High School in 1956. He received the flyer at that time and had kept it in a photo album along with a commemorative photo of the meeting.

On June 9, Mr. Shine visited a special exhibition at Peace Memorial Museum entitled “The Students Who Built the Children’s Peace Monument; Hopes for Peace Entrusted in a Thousand Cranes.” He did not, however, find the same flyer among the items on display and so he proposed donating his copy to the museum.

An official of the museum said they have a different flyer from that time, which Sadako’s classmates distributed on the occasion of the Conference of the National Junior High School Principals Association, as well as a bulletin issued by the “Society of School Children,” but not the flyer that has been in Mr. Shine’s possession. Shinobu Kikuraku, 49, in charge of the museum’s Outreach Division, commented that this flyer is “precious evidence of children’s volunteer efforts.” Peace Memorial Museum promptly added the flyer to its exhibition, which will run until June 30.

(Originally published on June 18, 2008)

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