Japanese Couple Prays for Terror Victims' Families with 1,000 Cranes
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 16, 2002 Pentagon officials Jan. 15 received 1,000 origami cranes from a Japanese couple who spent nearly three months hand-folding their gesture of sympathy and prayer for the families and victims of the terrorist attack on the Pentagon last year
Hideo and Yoshiko Yamazaki sent their package of 1,000 colorful origami cranes to their daughter, Hiroko, in early January. They told her they didn't know how to get the birds to the Pentagon. The daughter, a Georgetown University student here, didn't know either. She asked a professor, Dana L. Johnson, for help.
Meg Falk, director of DoD's Office of Family Policy, chats with Hiroko Yamazaki about the 1,000 Origami Cranes her parents made for families and victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the Pentagon. Yamazaki presented the cranes to Defense Department officials Jan. 15, 2002. Photo by Rudi Williams.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Johnson contacted David Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, who directed the arrangements. The project was handed to Meg Falk, director of DoD's Office of Family Policy.
"This is a very strong testimony to the fact that people around the world care very much about the victims of Sept. 11," Falk said. "The fact that this wonderful Japanese couple made this is a tribute to our international bond -- the bonds we have with people all over the world."
Hiroko Yamazaki recounted her parents' story to an audience of victims' families at the Jan. 15 meeting of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001 at the Sheraton Crystal City Hotel in Arlington, Va.
The 1,000 cranes were displayed on a wall outside the ballroom. Families were encouraged to view them as they left the meeting.
"My parents told me that they could not stop folding when they thought of the victims and their families whom they might have seen or passed by during a tour of the Pentagon or on the Metro train during one of their three visits here," said Yamazaki. "They love my second hometown, Washington, D.C., as much as I do."
Her parents told her they folded the cranes with sympathy for the victims of the terrorist attack on the Pentagon and with appreciation for the United States, where their daughter enjoys living and studying.
The 1,000 origami cranes is a Japanese custom symbolic of praying for those who have lost a loved one and praying for the repose of the victims' souls. Because the crane is a Japanese symbol of long life, hope, good luck and happiness, origami cranes can also be a prayer for happiness, healing, peace and recovery from disease, Yamazaki noted.
Retired Army Col. Ben Salamone and his daughter, Ann Marie, 24, stopped by the crane display before entering the meeting hall. "This is gorgeous and the colors are beautiful," said Salamone, whose wife, Marjorie, was killed in the terrorist attack. "The idea behind the 1,000 cranes is wonderful and it's a beautiful gesture that her family gave them ... as a remembrance for all of us."
Salamone called the Yamazaki gesture wonderful and touching. "This takes a lot of time and effort to make," he noted.
"It's so wonderful that people from other countries are reaching out to us," Ann Marie Salamone said. She wasn't familiar with origami cranes custom, she said, but my father was.
"I've known about the origami cranes since the mid-80s because a friend made something like this for one of their good friends who left the area," Salamone said. "But I thought it was just for luck."
Origami (the Japanese "ori" and "gami" translate to "to fold paper") is a traditional art form that dates back to the sixth century and is based on a Chinese version created 400 or 500 years earlier. More information about origami can be found on the Internet at http://www.exploratorium.edu/exploring/paper/paper2.html.