It’s Remembrance Day and it means many things to many people. It is the anniversary of the official end of two great wars fought. It marks the sacrifice of many lives. It is a day of reflection. It is a day to say thank you to the fallen and to veterans who fought for what they believed in. For me, this day is also about thinking about the fallout of these great wars, the history it caused and the lives that were forever altered.
As a kid, I never thought about what happens after a conflict is over until my fourth grade teacher read us the book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr. This book is based on the true-life story of Sadako Sasaki, a girl whose life changed after the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II. Sadako becomes sick and later finds out it was due to exposure to radiation from these bombs when she was an infant in Hiroshima. After being diagnosed with leukemia, she keeps hopeful that she could turn her fate around. She decides to put her belief in an old Japanese legend where the folder of one thousand paper cranes will be granted any one wish they desire. Though she does not reach her goal, she inspires many other people to her cause, and becomes a heroine in Japan for her efforts.
Readers, this book changed the way I looked at the world for so many reasons. It opened my eyes to the other side of war: To those who are not on the front lines fighting, but become directly affected by the conflict. It also let me see that kids are not immune to acts of war, either, and that even one person can make others believe in hope for a better future. Every time I read this book, I am moved by Sadako’s story and bravery. It is also one of the shortest books I own; it’s only 80 pages long, but it’s a powerful and moving story, and I have to read it over and over again.
Most people also sport poppies to commemorate Remembrance Day. Since my kids are all over me, I decided that maybe wearing a poppy may cause more harm than good this year. I decided to show my gratitude for this day in another way by folding origami paper cranes. Besides the legend I previously mentioned, cranes are a symbol of health, hope and longevity. They are not the easiest creatures to create, but they are so much fun to fold.
Whenever I see a paper crane, I take in everything I have learned about Remembrance Day: The sacrifice of many people, John McCrae’s poem In Flanders Field (which is also such a moving piece of writing), and the lives, both past and present, of so many who are forever changed by these conflicts. These people and this poem all make me thankful for what I have and am still trying to achieve. Besides taking in the ceremonies and reflecting, this is how I am choosing to pass Remembrance Day.