Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Origami cranes, an international symbol of peace and hope

It's been one year since countless lives were shattered, but we're picking up the pieces and moving forward. There are exhibits all over town. I visited two yesterday.

Last year when I went down to Copley Square/Boylston Street for the first time after the Marathon bombings I was surprised to see origami cranes at the memorial and in a few places on Boylston Street. I had also seen some cranes at Sean Collier's makeshift memorial at MIT. Until last April I had never been to a makeshift memorial for a tragic event and I didn't know that origami cranes have become an international symbol of peace and hope. I assume this is because of the story of Sadako Sasaki and her peace cranes.

Peace cranes @ Old South Church

Recently, I was touched to learn the story of 1,000 cranes that were hand-delivered to the Old South Church (the church at the finish line of the Boston Marathon) by the Newtown Congregational Church which had received them from a church in Chardon, Ohio following the tragic December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Pilgrim Christian Church had received the cranes following a shooting at their high school from the Saron United Church of Christ in Sheboygen Falls, Wisconsin, who had made the cranes for the 10th anniversary of 9/11. The cranes are currently being exhibited in the front hallway of Old South Church until Tuesday, April 22nd, the day after the marathon, after which they'll be delivered to a church in Fort Hood, Texas following the second mass shooting at the base in recent years. If you're in the neighborhood you should stop by and see them. They're beautifully displayed.

Apparently, these cranes were not the only post marathon bombing tribute. Someone organized an exhibit of 1,000 cranes at Anime Boston last year.

After visiting Old South Church I went across the street to the Boston Public Library to see Dear Boston: Messages from the Marathon Memorial where they also included a few origami cranes in the exhibit. One was a large photo of a crane at the memorial last year printed on a canvas.

It appears that they may have borrowed from the Japanese Tanabata tradition of writing wishes on strips of paper (tanzaku) and hanging them on bamboo. There were 4 trees on which you could hang wishes. There were daffodils at the base of each tree, which might be related to the Boston Strong Marathon Daffodils project. The exhibit runs through Sunday, May 11th. I highly recommend checking it out. It was beautifully and lovingly curated.

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