The MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk is honoring the anniversary of the end of World War II with an exhibit featuring 1,000 paper cranes folded by local students.
The exhibition, titled “A Better World,” opened on Aug. 2. It is timed to coincide with the 71st anniversary of events in Japan at the conclusion of the war: the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945 and on Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945. At the MacArthur Memorial, that history still resonates.
“It was just a really cool way to involve the local school children,” said Amanda Williams, the memorial’s education manager. “It’s also a powerful testament to the tragedy of war, but also the peace that came out of the second world war.”
Inspiration for the exhibit came from the story of a 12-year-old Japanese girl, Sadako Sasaki, who battled leukemia after being exposed to radiation from the Hiroshima bombing, the memorial said in a release. Sasaki made 1,000 origami cranes because a Japanese legend holds that anyone who does so is granted a wish, and she wanted to recover. She died on Oct. 25, 1955, but her example has inspired others to fold paper cranes as a tribute to peace, according to the release.
Earlier this year, the memorial enlisted students from Norfolk and Virginia Beach to fold cranes for the exhibit. Hundreds participated, according to Williams. The Virginia Beach students were from Kemps Landing/Old Donation School, Tallwood High School, Salem High School and Bayside High School.
Their collective handiwork will be on display until Oct. 2.
Visitors to the exhibit can sign a guest book. They will also be able to fold a paper crane of their own, but not this weekend, Williams said. She does not know how many people have seen the exhibit since it opened, but she does have one measure of its impact. The memorial has run out of folding paper and won’t have more until Tuesday, she said in an email.
More information about the the exhibit is available here, on the memorial’s website. The MacArthur Memorial is located at 198 Bank St. Admission to the exhibit is free.