Massacre memorial points to peaceful future

By Zhu Chengshan Source:Global Times Published: 2014-2-27 20:08:01

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

China's legislative body has set December 13 as a national memorial day to commemorate the victims of the Nanjing Massacre during Japanese aggression (1937-45). Such an unprecedented national day will have extensive influence both at home and abroad.

In fact, designating memorial days is a common international practice. Many countries who went through WWII have chosen different ways to mourn their dead.

These memorial events have lasted for about seven decades, drawing people from all walks of life to pay tribute to the victims and more importantly conduct a complete and thorough introspection about their history.

In Poland, some of the most notorious concentration camps have been kept and identified as national museums, which are owned and maintained by the Polish government.

Every January 27, survivors, Soviet Union veterans who liberated the camps, and senior politicians from many countries are invited into the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum to pay tribute to the victims. Memorial activities are held to make sure the whole world can remember the catastrophe.

In November 2005, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization designated January 27 as Holocaust Remembrance Day, on which commemorations across the world are held.

This kind of national memorial days can also be found in the US, which commemorates the victims of the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Even Japan, one of the culprits in WWII, has set up its own memorial days to commemorate the lost lives in the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Compared with its counterparts around the globe, China's national memorial day is a bit late. But it is never too late to institutionalize such national ceremony of commemoration according to the international convention.

In fact, the proposal of this memorial day does not come from thin air. It is a result of years of strong advocacy and demand of the populace.

Dating back to the 1990s, some patriotic overseas Chinese proposed to the Chinese leaders that China should make a ceremony to commemorate the victims of the Nanjing Massacre at the national level, and that China's top leadership should be present at the ceremony.

This suggestion was supported and echoed by the survivors and those who lost family in the Nanjing Massacre, as well as many local Nanjing scholars who asked for the presence of Chinese top leadership. Only by doing so could the lives of the victims be honored, and the lessons of history remembered.

More efforts have been made in the past two decades. Proposals on the same idea were submitted by a number of NPC deputies and members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, which managed to acquire wide media coverage and popular support. The setup of the national memorial day agrees with the will of the people.

With the establishment of the national memorial day, Chinese people can look into the future to get a clearer vision.

By commemorating the victims of war on the national memorial day, China as one nation can refresh its memory of the massacre so that it can continue drawing lessons from the history and avoid the recurrence of the catastrophe.

This can also help show to the world how committed Chinese people are to safeguarding world peace.

History cannot be erased from a nation's memory, because forgetting the lessons of history will probably jeopardize peace and risk restaging tragedy.

Recent years have witnessed Japan becoming increasingly right-wing. The most obvious evidence is that many Japanese rightists, including politicians and media professionals, are blurring and even refusing to accept the truth of the Nanjing Massacre.

In such circumstances, setting a national memorial day for the victims of the massacre will protect the historic truth and rebut the disgraceful remarks of the Japanese right wing.

A memorial day remembering war's horrors can remind us of the need to protect a peaceful future.

The author is the curator of the Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders.

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