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The importance of the new Nanjing Massacre Memorial Holiday

Popularity 4Viewed 7234 times 2014-3-1 17:25 |System category:News| Nanjing, memorial, holiday, massacre, war

The authorities have announced that the terrible attack by Japanese soldiers on innocent civilians, including many women and children, that was started on December 13, 1937 in Nanjing will in future be commemorated by a national holiday on that date.  I hope and believe that many foreigners will be familiar with this sad piece of history because many books have been written about, and movies have been made about, the rape of Nanking (nowadays Nanjing - meaning the Southern Capital) including Nanking, Nanking and The City of Life and Death.

It has been my privilege to live in Nanjing for two years, from 2008 while working with Nanjing University. Many times I took foreign students to the wonderful and moving Nanjing Massacre Memorial Museum. I recommend any visitor to China to try to fit in a visit there. It is only around an hour by high speed train from Shanghai.

Anyone visiting the museum will come away with two strong impressions. The first is how well this facility records, in photographs and other records, the atrocities that took place. The second is the absence of a feeling of bitterness, but instead a feeling of hope. The exit from the main museum building tells visitors that the purpose of recording all this information is to show why the world needs peace, not war. Visitors finish their tour in a beautiful garden with a Peace Statue.

Thus I am amazed and deeply saddened that, in the face of such evidence, certain voices within Japan seek to deny the occurrence of this massacre. If the horrors of war are not recognized, how can the world learn from them and build a peaceful future? I take comfort in the belief that the citizens of Japan think differently from those few trying to re-write history.

For those not familiar with the Nanjing Massacre in which over 300,000 Chinese were murdered, I refer you to an article of mine  It also contains some interesting  photographs of the museum area. I reproduce my photo of the Peace Statue below.

This year many countries in Europe will be remembering the start, in 1914, of what was then called The Great War (World War 1) and there will be many lessons to be learned from that. I feel fortunate to have been born and to grow up in an era of peace in Western Europe and most of the world. We should never take that peace for granted and there are sadly parts of the world that do not know peace today.  China seeks to contribute to global stability and to have a peaceful rise.    As we understand China better that will become clear.  There must never be another Massacre on the scale of Nanjing, wherever in the world.

Peace Statue in Nanjing Massacre Memorial Museum

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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Comment Comment (8 comments)

Reply Report voice_cd 2014-3-3 17:43
Thanks for sharing your story here! We have highlighted your story to the homepage.
Reply Report Judy_Zhu 2014-3-4 01:39
I like your article, but I have a personal opinion about the title. Is it possible to change the 'holiday' to 'day'?
Reply Report ColinSpeakman 2014-3-4 04:41
Yes it could say day. I thought the point was though that the date has been marked every year as I recall. Special ceremony in Nanjing and wide China TV coverage. So isn't the new part that it will be marked as a public holiday?
Reply Report LanaLiao 2014-3-5 04:23
Thanks for your understanding of China and its people, and also for your efforts to let more foreigners know better about China. Thank you.
Reply Report ColinSpeakman 2014-3-5 04:31
I am still learning too and I think we are getting many knowledgeable contributors on this Forum which will give it a collective strength.
Reply Report Dr.Bill.Shen 2014-3-5 06:38
ColinSpeakman: Yes it could say day. I thought the point was though that the date has been marked every year as I recall. Special ceremony in Nanjing and wide China  ...
I do not think people get a day off on that day. That might be what Judy meant.
Reply Report Judy_Zhu 2014-3-7 11:51
Besides, holiday normaly brings us relaxation and leisure. I do not think that will be a holiday to us, but a sadness, recalling, thinking and a lesson.
Reply Report ColinSpeakman 2014-3-7 14:04
Yes I hope it will be a day for reflection and activities across the nation. But surely people need time off to do it?

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