Staff Sgt. Ismael Esconde, the substance abuse control officer with Headquarters and Service Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, holds a crane he folded at building 267 aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii April 19, 2017. Esconde uses origami as a way to make a positive impact in his local community. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Brittney Vella)
Staff Sgt. Ismael Esconde, the substance abuse control officer with Headquarters and Service Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, holds a crane he folded at building 267 aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii April 19, 2017. Esconde uses origami as a way to make a positive impact in his local community. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Brittney Vella)

Legend of 1,000 Cranes

by 1st Lt. Bridget Glynn
III Marine Expeditionary Force

On July 29, 2019 Mr. Yuji Sasaki, from Okinawa, Japan, donated an origami crane made by his aunt, Sadako Sasaki, to the USS Missouri in Honolulu, Hawaii as a symbol of peace.

Sadako Sasaki had folded the crane while she was in the hospital fighting leukemia hoping the legend of 1,000 cranes could help her live. However, when it became apparent she would not, she decided to wish for world peace.

After her death, Sadako’s family dedicated the Peace Park in Hiroshima, Japan in her honor and continued to spread knowledge of the legend of 1,000 cranes.

The legend of 1,000 cranes is the idea that if a person folds 1,000 origami cranes, they may make a wish to be granted by the gods.

In 2016, U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Ismael Esconde, a cyber systems chief with 3rd Marine Regiment, went to Okinawa, Japan for the Unit Deployment Program and learned about the legend and its importance.

In Japan, Esconde wanted to show his feelings of respect to the local community by working with Marines and sailors to create and donate origami cranes in accordance with the legend.

“I sought to help improve relations between the Japanese and U.S. Military communities by showing that we respect them and their culture,” explained Esconde.

Throughout their six months in Japan, Esconde and his counterparts donated 1,000 cranes each to the Hobuku Hospital, Naha City Hospital, and a local nursing home in Kin.

When tales of Esconde’s actions reached Mr. Sasaki, he reached out and the two began to communicate and share their passion.

“We respect each other, in what each of us represent. He carries on his family's legacy in Japan whereas I try to inform people of it here in the United States,” stated Esconde.

The event in Honolulu, was actually the first time the two gentlemen met in person. After three years of interaction, events came full circle and Sadako’s crane will sit in the USS Missouri forever.

The two have worked diligently to accomplish peace, spread the joy of origami, and educate others on Sadako’s wish with the legend of 1,000 cranes.

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