Dormont library program to pay tribute to Japanese culture
Dormont Public Library will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings with a tribute to Japanese culture and history on Aug. 8.
The library and The Japan America Society of Pennsylvania are the hosts, and in addition to remembering those killed in the bombings near the end of World War II, the event will celebrate Japanese culture and include a tea ceremony, a performance on the koto, a stringed instrument, and other activities.
“We hope more and more people, especially of the younger generation, will learn what happened there, how tragic the events were and think to search for a way to peace,” said Katsuko Shellhammer, the society's education outreach coordinator. “The U.S. and Japan have come so far in these 70 years and are great friends, which begins with people-to-people relationships.”
U.S. bombers dropped atomic weapons in August 1945 on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing and injuring thousands of people. The war ended with Japan's surrender days later.
With help from Shellhammer and Muyumi Loper of The Japan America Society, library staff and members of the Origami Club of Pittsburgh folded 1,000 paper cranes that will be unveiled at the event.
Diana D'Agostino, the library's marketing director, said the idea for the cranes came from the story of Sadako Sasaki in the children's book “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes” by Eleanor Coerr, published in 1977.
Based on a true story, the book tells the story of Sadako, who was just 2 years old when the bomb fell on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. Another was dropped on Nagasaki three days later. Although she did not feel the effects immediately, Sadako developed leukemia in 1954. With knowledge of her approaching death, she turned to the Japanese legend that someone who folds 1,000 paper cranes will be granted a wish, and hers was to be cured.
She died Oct. 25, 1955, and although she never made it to 1,000, children from around the world have folded paper cranes in her memory.
D'Agostino said the event will be interactive, and a good outreach to people in the area who might not know much about Japanese culture or the bombings. One library staff member, Amy Ohliger, folded 700 cranes on her own, D'Agostino said.
“The purpose of the event is awareness as well as commemoration,” she said.
Moving forward, she said, library staff members “don't plan to host other events related to Hiroshima specifically, but do plan to continue a partnership with the Origami Club of Pittsburgh staring Aug. 22.” Once a month, a representative from the club is to teach an origami workshop at the library.
She added that, “The cranes are going to be very beautiful and displayed throughout the first floor.”
The event also will remember all people lost in World War II, said library Director Cindy D'Agostino, Diana's mother.
Later, the cranes in the Dormont display will be sent to The Children's Peace Monument, or “The Tower of One Thousand Cranes,” in Hiroshima. The memorial is home to thousands cranes, sent by people from all over the world as a symbol of hope and peace for the future.
Katie O'Toole is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.