Clifton Truman Daniel, the grandson of President Harry S. Truman who gave the order for the dropping of "Little Boy" and "Fat Man", referencing the story of Sadako:
Truman’s Grandson & Japan’s A-Bomb Survivors: A Story of Reconciliation
As the generation that survived the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki begins to pass, the grandson of President Truman works to end the threat of nuclear weapons.In June of 2012, I was driving home from taking my son, Gates, to high school when, contrary to common sense and Chicago ordinance, I decided to check the messages on my cellphone. There was only one. Someone with a lovely soprano voice was singing me “Happy Birthday.”
It turned out to be Shigeko Sasamori, who survived the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima, an attack ordered by my grandfather, Harry S. Truman.
I had met Shigeko only a couple of weeks earlier, in New York. She was there working with Hibakusha Stories, a United Nations-affiliated NGO that, as of this date, has brought atomic bomb survivors to share their experiences with more than 25,000 New York Metro-area high school students.
Needless to say, I never expected to know a survivor of Hiroshima, let alone have her sing me “Happy Birthday.” My grandfather never spoke to me about the atomic bombings. I learned about them like everyone else, from history books. Aside from casualty figures, the books told me very little about what happened to the people.
In 1999, when my older son, Wesley, was in fifth grade, he brought home a copy of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. The book is based on the life of Sadako Sasaki, a little girl in Hiroshima sickened by radiation. She followed a Japanese tradition that says if you fold 1,000 origami paper cranes, you are granted a wish. Sadako’s wish was to live. Sadly, though she folded more than 1,000 cranes, she died of leukemia on October 25, 1955. There’s a memorial to her and all children killed or wounded by the bomb in Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park.
I mentioned to two Japanese writers that my family and I had read Sadako’s story. Not long after their stories ran, I received a phone call from Japan, from Masahiro Sasaki, Sadako’s older brother and himself a survivor of Hiroshima.
We met in 2010 in New York, where Masahiro and his son, Yuji, were donating one of Sadako’s original paper cranes to the 9/11 Tribute Center as a gesture of healing and peace. During our meeting, Yuji took a small paper crane from a plastic box and dropped it into my palm. It was the last crane Sadako folded before she died. At that point, Yuji and his father asked if I would consider attending the annual memorial ceremonies in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.