Keith Johnson, Deseret Morning News
Orem choir members fold paper cranes.

When members of the Studio A Children's Choir go to participate in the Flower Festival at Hiroshima in May, they will take with them a chain of 500 paper cranes they have folded. These will be joined with 500 cranes made by the Japanese choir they will be teaming up with.

The cranes are not only a symbol of unity between the two choral groups, they also have special significance in Hiroshima.

If you go to the Peace Memorial Park at Hiroshima, and particularly to the Children's Peace Monument, which is also called the Tower of a Thousand Cranes, you will see bright, folded paper cranes everywhere. In Japan, origami — or paper-folding — is an ancient art. But the cranes have become a symbol of peace and, according to the city of Hiroshima's Web site (www.city.hiroshima.jp), "they are folded as a wish for peace in many countries around the world."

The symbolism of the cranes is traced to a girl named Sadako Sasaki, who was 2 years old when she was exposed to the atomic bomb. She had no apparent injuries at the time, but nine years later she was diagnosed with leukemia and admitted to the Hiroshima Red Cross Hospital. She began folding cranes in the belief that they would help her recover, but she passed away eight months later.

Her death inspired a campaign to build a monument to pray for "world peace and the peaceful repose of children" killed because of war. The Children's Peace Monument was built with funds donated from across Japan. Now, approximately 10 million cranes are offered each year by people, and particularly children, all over the world.