Few months ago, I went on my fourth Overseas Community Affairs Council (OCAC) sponsored trip to Taiwan. Truth be told, I’m having trouble distinguishing between each trip. If anyone’s counting, I’ve shaken Vice President Chen’s hand four times, visited the President House four times, and eaten at Liao Ning night market 4 times. Why do I keep going you ask? Because every time I go, I come back loving Taiwan more and more.
For past trips, it was unclear why OCAC sponsor these trips. However, this time, OCAC officials were clear on their message: “Taiwan Needs Our Help”. Taiwan’s current position in world has become dire. Taiwan is only officially recognized by 17 other nations. Taiwan is prohibited from being a member of the United Nations. Taiwan is also barred from attending the WHO to access crucial research and data to combat the swine flu. The older generation who championed promoting Taiwan’s interest throughout the world is growing old. Soon, the burden of promoting Taiwan’s interest around the world will fall on us “second-generation.”
Unsurprisingly, for this trip, they took us to the Martyr Shrine. Now, if you haven’t gone the shrine, the Martyr Shine is a shrine dedicated to the martyr’s that sacrificed their lives for the Republic of China. Surrounding the rooms are wooden plaques each carved with names of the
martyrs. I never really much enjoyed this place as it doesn’t have air conditioning and there are a lot of bugs. I usually just hid in a corner to avoid the heat and humidity.
This time around, the weather was a bit cooler, so I decided to venture into a display area that gave a short biography about some of the martyrs. To my surprise, many of the martyrs were young men and women. Many died or were imprisoned because they fought against the Qing Dynasty or the Communist Party. Each sacrificed their life so the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen’s Republic of China could survive and spread democratic values throughout China.
Why does all this matter? Well, if it were not for the sacrifice these individuals made, Taiwan would not be Taiwan was we know it today. Putting it in the context of current tensions between Hong Kong and China, Taiwan is fortunate for having a separate government away from China and it is all because of the sacrifice these young men and women made.
The unfortunate reality is that us “second generation” are far removed from history that we forget how we got here. We forget that people sacrificed their lives, so that Taiwan can exist as it exists today. We forget that it is because of these young men and women’s sacrifice that many of our parents or grandparents had the opportunity to come to the United States to give us a better life.
So, let us not forget the sacrifice our forefathers made. Let us not forget where we came from. Let us not forget we are Taiwanese Americans and Taiwan needs our help.