Cranes of compassion


POSTED: Monday, June 22, 2009

Two Minnesota teens have finally surpassed their goal of collecting 120,313 folded paper cranes in honor of each of the Japanese Americans that were interned during World War II.





        Send folded cranes to: Riverside Metropolitan Museum; California Peace Crane Project. Attention: Lynn Voorheis, Museum Curator of Historic Structures and Collections, 3580 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside, CA 92501

Note: Include a count of cranes in the package. Carly and Michelle will also continue to collect internment stories to post on their Web site, www.120313cranes.org.




Carly Gutzmann and Michelle Reed began this journey after they made a documentary, “;The Art and Soul of Topaz Relocation Center”; as a National History Day school project on the topic of “;Triumph and Tragedy in History.”;

The 15-year-olds had not been exposed to Japanese culture in their small town when they embarked on this project, and were unfamiliar with the internment camp story. After learning more, they hoped their project would raise awareness and prevent history from repeating itself.

“;Working on this project has been an exhilarating experience. I met so many wonderful people and heard so many stories,”; said Michelle. “;I hope this project will inspire other to promote peace and tolerance throughout the world.”;

Mary Reed, Michelle's mother added, “;This has been a life changing and life affirming experience for all of us.”;

The girls' “;Cranes for Peace Memorial Project”; has officially ended. The 120,313 cranes will go to the new Topaz Museum which is under construction in Delta, Utah, at the Topaz Internment camp site and will be placed in a permanent display detailing information on all the internment camps. An additional 11,212 cranes will be strung in the museum's atrium to honor those specifically interned at Topaz.

Although this project is complete, Michelle has teamed up with the Riverside Metropolitan Museum in Riverside, Calif., to collect 93,717 cranes to honor the internees from that area. A surplus of 27,040 cranes has already been collected, with many of the boxes coming from Hawaii after their story appeared in this paper in September 2008.

“;We have received many heartwarming letters about how this project has touched the lives of Japanese Americans, but also many letters from non-Japanese Americans who were moved by the project,”; said Mary. “;The girls learned that one person can make a difference in the world. And while they were making a difference in the Japanese-American community, they learned humility and grace.”;

The Japanese American National Museum was a large contributor, gathering 131,525 cranes for the project. More than 45,000 cranes were received from Hawaii.

“;With the accomplishment of the Cranes for Peace Memorial, we hope that we have spread a little more peace around the world,”; said Carly.

Kelly Gutzmann, Carly's mom added, “;I have been amazed at the outpouring of support the girls have received. It is something that will have an affect on them all of their lives.”;